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South Dakota Bill Would Allow Creationism in Schools

A new bill in the South Dakota legislature, sponsored by six senators and seven representatives, would allow public school science teachers to teach intelligent design “or other related topics.” It would forbid school administrators from preventing them from doing so:

An Act to prohibit schools from preventing the instruction of intelligent design.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA:

Section 1. That chapter 13-33 be amended by adding thereto a NEW SECTION to read as follows:

No school board or school administrator may prohibit a teacher in public or nonpublic school from providing instruction on intelligent design or other related topics.

This, of course, is unconstitutional as Judge Jones ruled in the Dover trial. Indeed, this law invites schools and teachers into what we’ve long been calling the Dover Trap. They’re encouraging teachers to teach something that will end up with them in court and facing a huge legal bill. Worse, this bill prevents school administrators from even protecting themselves or their schools against such suits. Very bad idea.

Comments

  1. birgerjohansson says

    This is an excellnt opportunity to teach Americans how the Aesir created the world, including the first humans, Ask and Embla.

    And let us not forget the contributions from the thousands of Indian* gods to the creation of the world.

    *East Indian. The spirits of the North American nations will get their own textbook. You need to recognise a Wendigo when you see one.

  2. birgerjohansson says

    I anticipate exciting conflicts between the El/Jahwe/Allah followers and those who argue for the Universe being sneezed out by Bel-Shamaroth. And what of the conflicts between Young Earth creationists, intermediate old Earth creationists and old Earth creationists? Was the star Kolob involved in the Hindu cosmonogy?

  3. eric says

    This, of course, is unconstitutional as Judge Jones ruled in the Dover trial.

    I take it that by “as,” you’re arguing that Jones articulated a pre-existing unconstitutionality. Not that his ruling made it unconstitutional to teach ID. Because (IANAL but IMO) the latter isn’t true. His position as a Pennsylvania district court judge is more parallel to SD’s district courts, not controlling over them. So while judges in SD may pay attention to his ruling, they are not bound to rule a certain way just because he did.

  4. pixiedust says

    I’d like to propose a friendly amendment: No school board or school administrator may prohibit a teacher in public or nonpublic school from providing instruction on atheism, logical thinking, sex education or other related topics.

  5. eric says

    @1-@3: you’re forgetting that in most of these communities, administrators will consider nonChristian cosmologies to be “unrelated.”

  6. sh3baproject says

    @5. i was going to suggest that but you beat me to it.

    creationists: pulling shit out of their asses and feeding to children. gross.

  7. Etiene says

    eric @4

    I was wondering the same thing: Dover didn’t go to the Supreme Court, I think? Are they trying to push something further to overturn that ruling?

    [Probably not, they just seem to be slow learners and/or enjoy paying lawyers, but it is one possible consequence...]

  8. dogmeat says

    His position as a Pennsylvania district court judge is more parallel to SD’s district courts, not controlling over them. So while judges in SD may pay attention to his ruling, they are not bound to rule a certain way just because he did.

    They aren’t bound by Judge Jone’s ruling, but putting that sound precedent in concert with the existing Supreme Court precedent established by Edwards and all but the most ideological judge would be highly unlikely to rule in favor of this law.

    Also, I don’t know anything about SD internal legal guidelines, but I’m not certain the intrusion into local government would be acceptable. In effect they’re barring local government officials (administration) from doing their job in an area that could cost the district substantially in terms of lawsuits and legal fees, even if they won.

  9. Moggie says

    So, no school board or school administrator may prohibit a teacher from instructing their class that intelligent design (or biblical creationism, being closely related to ID, as all cdesign proponentsists know) is a steaming pile of manure.

  10. says

    Up next: new law prohibits uppity atheists who sue school districts over unconstitutional actions are barred from recovering their legal costs from said school district when they prevail.

  11. says

    South Dakota Bill Would Allow Creationism in Schools

    He’s in politics now? South Dakota Bill used to be the fastest gun in the whole midwest. True story.

  12. birgerjohansson says

    M.O.
    Previously, South Dakota Bill used to threaten and intimidate creationists, but now he will allow creationism in schools.

  13. eric says

    Etiene:

    Dover didn’t go to the Supreme Court, I think?

    Correct, it did not. AIUI, Kitzmiller vs. Dover is the “official law of the land” for one judicial district in Pennsylvania. For all other areas of the US, it’s a case that lawyers will cite and use, it’s a good idea, and it’s a precedent that judges may refer to when they are deciding how to rule…but outside of Jones’ district, it is not a precedent any judge must follow.

    I tend to agree with dogmeat @10 that what Jones’ ruling did was make it much more likely that fence-sitting judges and judges without a dog in the creationism fight will, in the future, rule against ID. So it definitely helps the mainstream even outside just the one district in Pennsylvania. But at the same time, the US has not shortage of highly ideological and strongly religious judges. After all, wasn’t it just last week that a judge was censured for using her staff to perform work for her church? I have no problem thinking there may be a SD judge perfectly willing to rule in the opposite direction. Actually I have no problem thinking there are judges out there who would gladly rule in the opposite direction intentionally, in order to set up a conflict between how different circuits interpret the law and so push the supreme court to address it.

  14. raven says

    from providing instruction on intelligent design or other related topics.

    What are these other “related topics”.

    I’m sure they will be things like how jesus is totally real and Islam is a Fake Religion. The Big Bang never happened. All geology and biology is wrong. Embryology was invented by the devil as Broun Idiot Georgia claims. Obama is a Reptilian Shapeshifting Kenyan Moslem terrorist. The Demon Theory of Disease is correct and all atheists are demon possessed.

    Once you allow the public schools to pretend that religious superstitions are real, anything can be taught as fact.

  15. John Pieret says

    I’m waiting for the Discoveryless Institute’s reaction to this bill. On the surface, it would appear to be just what they want but there is a potential problem for them.

    If any individual teacher starts teaching ID and starts slipping in god-talk (which is all but certain from a teacher willing to wade in on ID in the first place) the DI can just say that the teacher didn’t understand ID and, therefore, any ruling against the teacher doesn’t really affect the legal standing of ID. That’s the idea behind their “official” position against mandating the teaching of ID but letting teachers “teach the controversy.” That way, if some teacher starts using ID to prosetlyse, the teachers will take the heat. But if the school district defends itself on the basis that the law prevented them from stopping the teacher, then the constitutionality of the law and whether ID is religious becomes the issue and they are back in the situation they were in in Dover.

    The DI got lucky in Dover. The locals, sick of the stupidity, voted out the creationists on the Dover school board, so there was no appeal. That’s less likely to happen with a statewide law, and they could wind up with an appeal that could kill the golden goose.

  16. erichoug says

    This is always so pathetic. Any reasonably competent attorney would tell them that this will get school districts sued, will rack up massive legal bills and will eventually get chucked out..

    I’m sure it will buy the Legislators who came up with it a lot of votes among the hysterical fundamentalists. The problem is that they are paying that bill with their children’s future

  17. peterh says

    Haven’t similar laws/”mandates” already been struck down in other states in addition to PA?

    @# 2:

    I’ve been told it was the Great Green Arkulsiezure who snuz us out’en his (her?) craw.

  18. jnorris says

    School administrators could include the superintendent. I don’t see school boards going along with a bill that takes power away from the board and the super. The boards will oppose this bill.

    Also, I am sure it was introduced to help with the re-election of the sponsors.

  19. Pierce R. Butler says

    eric @ # 4 & # 10: His position as a Pennsylvania district court judge …

    Judge Jones, at the time, was a federal judge, appointed through some slip in Karl Rove’s vetting process by GW “Dubya” Bush.

    Jones’s ruling is binding only in that federal district – which, as you say, does not reach so far as South Dakota, but has more authority than any state-district decision.

  20. tomh says

    they could wind up with an appeal that could kill the golden goose.

    Or, they could end up with a ruling from our current SC that allows ‘teach the controversy,’ or ‘academic freedom,’ or some such weasel words that permits a law like Louisiana’s.

  21. John Pieret says

    tomh @ 23:

    Or, they could end up with a ruling from our current SC that allows ‘teach the controversy,’ or ‘academic freedom,’ or some such weasel words that permits a law like Louisiana’s.

    That’s true, but it would also mean a ruling that ID can’t be taught in public schools because it is religious in nature, which undermines the whole narrative the DI has [cough] created to convince young people that there is scientific evidence for .God a designer who just happens to fit, comfortably enough, with the Christian God.

    Does the DI want to risk it?

  22. had3 says

    Just tack on the words “in a comparative religion class” at the end of the proposed legislation and everyone wins.

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