Antievolution legislation in New Mexico
Senate Bill 433, introduced in the New Mexico Senate on February 2, 2009, and referred to the Senate Education Committee, is the third antievolution bill to be introduced in a state legislature in 2009. If enacted, the bill would require schools to allow teachers to inform students "about relevant scientific information regarding either the scientific strengths or scientific weaknesses pertaining to biological evolution or chemical evolution," protecting teachers who choose to do so from "reassignment, termination, discipline or other discrimination for doing so."
The phrase "academic freedom" is not present in the bill, but it is clearly in the mold of the recent spate of antievolution "academic freedom" bills. As NCSE's Glenn Branch and Eugenie C. Scott recently wrote in Scientific American, "'Academic freedom' was the creationist catchphrase of choice in 2008: the Louisiana Science Education Act was in fact born as the Louisiana Academic Freedom Act, and bills invoking the idea were introduced in Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Missouri and South Carolina." Oklahoma, with its Senate Bill 320, joined the list in 2009.
Although SB 433 explicitly states that it "specifically does not protect the promotion of any religion, religious doctrine or religious belief" and defines "scientific information" as "information derived from observation, experimentation and analyses regarding various aspects of the natural world conducted to determine the nature of or principles behind the aspects being studied," it also states that "'scientific information' may have religious or philosophical implications and still be scientific in nature."
New Mexicans for Science and Reason quotes a New Mexican antievolution organization as taking credit for the bill: "State Senator Steve Komadina helped get the NM Biological Origins Education Bill started, and then he sponsored it in the NM Senate in 2007 [as SB 371]. Unfortunately, he will not be able to sponsor the bill again because he was not reelected, but we really appreciate his initiative. Senator Kent Cravens [R-District 27] has agreed to sponsor the bill in the 2009 session. Let's support him in getting this legislation through the Senate."