Gaming the Establishment Clause: Intelligent Design in the Public School Classroom
University of Missouri at Kansas City - School of Law
December 1, 2011
This article addresses the process by which the typical school board member or legislator has been asked to mandate the inclusion of intelligent design theory and critiques of evolution into the public school curriculum. It posits that as a matter of scientific theory, this debate is taking place before audiences patently unable to make informed scientific judgments. The constitutional problem with this process is that it is an illegitimate debate constructed to evade, not comply with the Establishment Clause. The conclusion is that the strategy employed by intelligent design proponents is especially troublesome because it “games” the Establishment clause in a way that defeats the central purpose of the Clause. Nothing is wrong with citizens pressing government to act in ways that coincide with particular religious beliefs; and nothing is wrong with government’s doing so if valid secular purposes are the true basis of the government’s actions. What ought not to be legitimate is citizens’ achieving religious goals by fooling a government agency into accepting sham secular purposes.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 20
Keywords: Establishment Clause, First Amendment, Public School, Science Curriculum, Evolution, Intelligent Design
JEL Classification: I20, I21, I28, I29, K10, K19
Date posted: December 2, 2011