Intelligent Design and the First Amendment: A Response

33 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 2005

See all articles by Jay Wexler

Jay Wexler

Boston University School of Law


In September 2005, a federal district judge in Pennsylvania began presiding over the nation's first trial regarding the constitutionality of introducing the concept of "intelligent design" (ID), a purportedly scientific alternative to the theory of evolution, into the public schools. My previous work has argued that teaching ID in the public schools would raise serious constitutional problems. In a series of writings, including a full length book and several articles, Baylor University professor Francis Beckwith has argued that public schools may constitutionally teach ID. In doing so, Beckwith has critiqued a number of arguments I have previously advanced in my own writing, calling them, for example, "wide of the mark" and "patently unreasonable." In this essay, I respond to Beckwith's arguments regarding ID, both those that specifically critique my own arguments, as well as those that stand on their own. Specifically I disagree with Beckwith in three substantive areas: whether courts should find that ID constitutes a religious belief, whether the Supreme Court's decision in Edwards v. Aguillard casts doubt on the constitutionality of teaching ID, and whether teachers have any first amendment academic freedom right to teach ID in direct contravention of clear school policy.

Keywords: Law and Religion, Evolution, Creationism, Intelligent Design, First Amendment, Constitutional Law

JEL Classification: Z12, K40, K49

Suggested Citation

Wexler, Jay, Intelligent Design and the First Amendment: A Response. Washington University Law Quarterly, Forthcoming, Boston Univ. School of Law Working Paper No. 05-16, Available at SSRN:

Jay Wexler (Contact Author)

Boston University School of Law ( email )

765 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States

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