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Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School Dist.

December 20, 2005

TAMMY KITZMILLER, ET AL. PLAINTIFFS
v.
DOVER AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT, ET AL.,: DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Jones

MEMORANDUM OPINION

INTRODUCTION

On October 18, 2004, the Defendant Dover Area School Board of Directors passed by a 6-3 vote the following resolution:

Students will be made aware of gaps/problems in Darwin's theory and of other theories of evolution including, but not limited to, intelligent design. Note: Origins of Life is not taught.

On November 19, 2004, the Defendant Dover Area School District announced by press release that, commencing in January 2005, teachers would be required to read the following statement to students in the ninth grade biology class at Dover High School:

The Pennsylvania Academic Standards require students to learn about Darwin's Theory of Evolution and eventually to take a standardized test of which evolution is a part.

Because Darwin's Theory is a theory, it continues to be tested as new evidence is discovered. The Theory is not a fact. Gaps in the Theory exist for which there is no evidence. A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations. Intelligent Design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin's view. The reference book, Of Pandas and People, is available for students who might be interested in gaining an understanding of what Intelligent Design actually involves.

With respect to any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind. The school leaves the discussion of the Origins of Life to individual students and their families. As a Standards-driven district, class instruction focuses upon preparing students to achieve proficiency on Standards-based assessments.

A. Background and Procedural History

On December 14, 2004, Plaintiffs filed the instant suit challenging the constitutional validity of the October 18, 2004 resolution and November 19, 2004 press release (collectively, "the ID Policy"). It is contended that the ID Policy constitutes an establishment of religion prohibited by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which is made applicable to the states by the Fourteenth Amendment, as well as the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief, nominal damages, costs, and attorneys' fees.

This Court's jurisdiction arises under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1343, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In addition, the power to issue declaratory judgments is expressed in 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201 and 2202. This Court has supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' cause of action arising under the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367. Venue is proper in this District under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b) because one or more Defendants reside in this District, all Defendants reside in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the events or omissions giving rise to the claims at issue occurred in this District.

For the reasons that follow, we hold that the ID Policy is unconstitutional pursuant to the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and Art. I, § 3 of the Pennsylvania Constitution.

B. The Parties to the Action

We will now introduce the individual Plaintiffs and provide information regarding their acquaintance with the biology curriculum controversy.*fn1 Tammy Kitzmiller, resident of Dover, Pennsylvania is a parent of a child in the ninth grade and a child in the eleventh grade at Dover High School.*fn2 She did not attend any Board meetings until November 2004 and first learned of the biology curriculum controversy from reading the local newspapers. Bryan and Christy Rehm, residents of Dover, Pennsylvania are parents of a child in the eighth grade, a child in the second grade, a child in kindergarden in the Dover Area School District, and a child of pre-school age. They intend for their children to attend Dover High School. Bryan Rehm learned of the biology curriculum controversy by virtue of being a member of the science faculty at Dover Area High School. Before and after his resignation, he regularly attended Board meetings. His wife, fellow Plaintiff Christy Rehm learned of the biology curriculum controversy by virtue of discussions she had with her husband and also regularly attended Board meetings in 2004. Deborah F. Fenimore and Joel A. Leib, residents of Dover, Pennsylvania are the parents of a child in the twelfth grade at Dover High School and a child in the seventh grade in the Dover Area School District. They intend for their seventh grade child to attend Dover High School. Leib first learned of a change in the biology curriculum by reading local newspapers. Steven Stough, resident of Dover, Pennsylvania is a parent of a child in the eighth grade in the Dover Area School District and intends for his child to attend Dover High School. Stough did not attend any Board meetings until December 2004 and prior to that, he had learned of the biology curriculum change by reading the local newspapers. Beth A. Eveland, resident of York, Pennsylvania is a parent of a child in the first grade in the Dover Area School District and a child of pre-school age who intends for her children to attend Dover High School. Eveland attended her first Board meeting on June 14, 2004. Prior to that, she had learned of the issues relating to the purchase of the biology books from reading the York Daily Record newspaper. Cynthia Sneath, resident of Dover, Pennsylvania is a parent of a child in the first grade in the Dover Area School District and a child of pre-school age who intends for her children to attend Dover High School. Sneath attended her first Board meeting on October 18, 2004 and prior to that, she had learned of the biology curriculum controversy from reading the local newspapers. Julie Smith, resident of York, Pennsylvania is a parent of a child in the tenth grade at Dover High School. Smith did not attend a Board meeting in 2004; she learned of and followed the biology curriculum controversy by reading the local newspapers. Aralene (hereinafter "Barrie") Callahan and Frederick B. Callahan, residents of Dover, Pennsylvania are parents of a child in the tenth grade at Dover High School. Barrie Callahan learned of the biology curriculum controversy by virtue of her status of a former Board member and from attending Board meetings. Fred Callahan learned of the biology curriculum controversy based upon discussions with his wife Barrie and from attending Board meetings.

The Defendants include the Dover Area School District (hereinafter "DASD") and Dover Area School District Board of Directors (hereinafter "the Board") (collectively "Defendants"). Defendant DASD is a municipal corporation governed by a board of directors, which is the Board. The DASD is comprised of Dover Township, Washington Township, and Dover Borough, all of which are located in York County, Pennsylvania. There are approximately 3,700 students in the DASD, with approximately 1,000 attending Dover High School. (Joint Stip. of Fact ¶ 3).

The trial commenced September 26, 2005 and continued through November 4, 2005. This Memorandum Opinion constitutes the Court's findings of fact and conclusions of law which are based upon the Court's review of the evidence presented at trial, the testimony of the witnesses at trial, the parties' proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law with supporting briefs, other documents and evidence in the record, and applicable law.*fn3 Further orders and judgments will be in conformity with this opinion.

C. Federal Jurisprudential Legal Landscape

As we will review the federal jurisprudential legal landscape in detail below, we will accordingly render only an abbreviated summary of that terrain by way of an introduction at this juncture. The religious movement known as Fundamentalism began in nineteenth century America as a response to social changes, new religious thought and Darwinism. McLean v. Ark. Bd. of Educ., 529 F. Supp. 1255, 1258 (E.D. Ark. 1982). Religiously motivated groups pushed state legislatures to adopt laws prohibiting public schools from teaching evolution, culminating in the Scopes "monkey trial" of 1925. McLean, 529 F.Supp. at 1259; see Scopes v. State, 154 Tenn. 105 (1927) (criminal prosecution of public-school teacher for teaching about evolution).

In 1968, a radical change occurred in the legal landscape when in Epperson v. Arkansas, 393 U.S. 97 (1968), the Supreme Court struck down Arkansas's statutory prohibition against teaching evolution. Religious proponents of evolution thereafter championed "balanced treatment" statutes requiring public-school teachers who taught evolution to devote equal time to teaching the biblical view of creation; however, courts realized this tactic to be another attempt to establish the Biblical version of the creation of man. Daniel v. Waters, 515 F.2d 485 (6th Cir. 1975).

Fundamentalist opponents of evolution responded with a new tactic suggested by Daniel's reasoning which was ultimately found to be unconstitutional under the First Amendment, namely, to utilize scientific-sounding language to describe religious beliefs and then to require that schools teach the resulting "creation science" or "scientific creationism" as an alternative to evolution.

In Edwards v. Arkansas, 482 U.S. 578 (1987), five years after McLean, the Supreme Court held that a requirement that public schools teach "creation science" along with evolution violated the Establishment Clause. The import of Edwards is that the Supreme Court turned the proscription against teaching creation science in the public school system into a national prohibition.

D. Consideration of the Applicability of the Endorsement and Lemon Tests to Assess the Constitutionality of the ID Policy

Having briefly touched upon the salient legal framework, it is evident that as the cases and controversies have evolved over time, so too has the methodology that courts employ in evaluating Establishment Clause claims. We initially observe that the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution provides that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." U.S. Const. amend. I. The prohibition against the establishment of religion applies to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment. Modrovich v. Allegheny County, 385 F.3d 397, 400 (3d Cir. 2004); see also Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U.S. 38, 49-50 (1985). The parties are in agreement that an applicable test in the case sub judice to ascertain whether the challenged ID Policy is unconstitutional under the First Amendment is that of Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971), (hereinafter "the Lemon test"). See Edwards, 482 U.S. 578 (applying Lemon test to strike down Louisiana's "Creationism Act"); see also Epperson, 393 U.S. 97 (considering the purpose and the primary effect of an Arkansas statute forbidding the teaching of evolution in public schools). Defendants, however, object to using the endorsement test, first arguing that it applies only to religious-display cases and most recently asserting that it applies to limited Establishment Clause cases, including a policy or practice in question that involves: a facially religious display, an overtly religious group or organization using government facilities, the provision of public funding or government resources to overly religious groups engaged in religious activity, or the permission of an overtly religious practice.

After a searching review of Supreme Court and Third Circuit Court of Appeals precedent, it is apparent to this Court that both the endorsement test and the Lemon test should be employed in this case to analyze the constitutionality of the ID Policy under the Establishment Clause, for the reasons that follow.

Since a majority of the Supreme Court first implemented the endorsement test in County of Allegheny v. ACLU, 492 U.S. 573 (1989), the Supreme Court and the Third Circuit have consistently applied the test to all types of Establishment Clause cases, notably cases involving religion in public-school settings. In Santa Fe Independent Sch. Dist. v. Doe, 530 U.S. 290 (2000), the Supreme Court applied the endorsement test to school-sponsored prayer at high school football games. In Santa Fe, the Supreme Court clearly defined the endorsement test by noting that "[i]n cases involving state participation in a religious activity, one of the relevant questions is 'whether an objective observer, acquainted with the text, legislative history, and implementation of the statute, would perceive it as a state endorsement of prayer in public schools.'" Id. at 308. The Supreme Court then provided a more concrete explanation of how the test functions in the public-school context, explaining that:

School sponsorship of a religious message is impermissible because it sends the ancillary message to members of the audience who are non-adherents 'that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and an accompanying message to adherents that they are insiders, favored members of the political community.'

Id. at 309-10 (quoting Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668, 688 (1984) (O'Connor, J., concurring)). In Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, 536 U.S. 639, 652-53 (2002), the Supreme Court applied the endorsement test to a school-voucher program. In Good News Club v. Milford Cent. Sch., 533 U.S. 98, 118-19 (2001), the Supreme Court applied the test to a school district's policy regarding a religious student club meeting on school property. In Mitchell v. Helms, 530 U.S. 793 (2000), and Agostini v. Felton, 521 U.S. 203 (1997), the Supreme Court applied the test to programs providing governmental aid to parochial schools. In Rosenberger v. Rector & Visitors of the University of Virginia, 515 U.S. 819, 841-42 (1995), the Supreme Court applied the endorsement test to a public university's policy regarding funding a religious student newspaper.

Defendants maintain that this Court should not apply the endorsement test to the challenged ID Policy because the Supreme Court did not apply the test to the creationism statutes at issue in Epperson and Edwards. As Plaintiffs aptly state however, Epperson was decided in 1968, five years before Lemon, and accordingly nearly two decades before Justice O'Connor first began to articulate the endorsement test as a way to conceptualize Lemon. In addition, not only did Edwards likewise pre-date the test's adoption in Allegheny, but contrary to Defendants' assertion, the Supreme Court did invoke at least the endorsement concept in that case. See Edwards, 482 U.S. at 585 ("If the law was enacted for the purpose of endorsing religion, 'no consideration of the second or third criteria [of Lemon] is necessary.'") (quoting Wallace, 472 U.S. at 56). Moreover, it is notable that Edwards was a "purpose" case, so it would have been unnecessary for the Supreme Court to delve into a full-scale endorsement analysis even had the test existed at the time, as the test is most closely associated with Lemon's "effect" prong, rather than its "purpose" prong.

A review of the above cited Supreme Court cases reveals that none of them involve a challenge to a religious display, yet in each such case, the Supreme Court reviewed the challenged governmental conduct to ascertain whether it constituted religious endorsement. Additionally, in each cited case, the Supreme Court reviewed a public school district's, or public university's, policy touching on religion. It is readily apparent to this Court that based upon Supreme Court precedent, the endorsement test must be utilized by us in our resolution of this case.

Applicable Third Circuit Court of Appeals precedent regarding application of the endorsement test to cases involving public school policies confirms our conclusion regarding its applicability to the instant dispute. In Child Evangelism Fellowship v. Stafford Township Sch. Dist., 386 F.3d 514 (3d Cir. 2004), the Third Circuit employed the endorsement test in considering whether a public school district would violate the Establishment Clause if it permitted religious groups to access students through a take-home-flyer system or a back-to-school night event. Also, in ACLU v. Black Horse Pike Reg'l Bd. of Educ., 84 F.3d 1471 (3d Cir. 1996), the Third Circuit applied the endorsement test in considering a challenge to a school board policy concerning whether prayer would be included in high school graduation ceremonies. In Black Horse Pike, the Third Circuit clearly stated that its duty was to "determine whether, under the totality of the circumstances, the challenged practice conveys a message favoring or disfavoring religion." Id. at 1486.

Our next task is to determine how to apply both the endorsement test and the Lemon test to the ID Policy. We are in agreement with Plaintiffs that the better practice is to treat the endorsement inquiry as a distinct test to be applied separately from, and prior to, the Lemon test. In recent Third Circuit cases, specifically, Freethought Society v. Chester County, 334 F.3d 247, 261 (3d Cir. 2003), Modrovich, 385 F.3d at 401-04, 406-13, and Child Evangelism, 386 F.3d at 530-35, the court adopted the practice of applying both tests. The Third Circuit conducted the endorsement inquiry first and subsequently measured the challenged conduct against Lemon's "purpose" and "effect" standards.*fn4

We will therefore initially analyze the constitutionality of the ID Policy under the endorsement test and will then proceed to the Lemon test as it applies to this case.

E. Application of the Endorsement Test to the ID Policy

The endorsement test recognizes that when government transgresses the limits of neutrality and acts in ways that show religious favoritism or sponsorship, it violates the Establishment Clause. As Justice O'Connor first elaborated on this issue, the endorsement test was a gloss on Lemon that encompassed both the purpose and effect prongs:

The central issue in this case is whether [the government] has endorsed [religion] by its [actions].

To answer that question, we must examine both what [the government] intended to communicate . . . and what message [its conduct] actually conveyed. The purpose and effect prongs of the Lemon test represent these two aspects of the meaning of the [government's] action.

Lynch, 465 U.S. at 690 (O'Connor, J., concurring).

As the endorsement test developed through application, it is now primarily a lens through which to view "effect," with purpose evidence being relevant to the inquiry derivatively. In Allegheny, the Supreme Court instructed that the word "endorsement is not self-defining" and further elaborated that it derives its meaning from other words that the Court has found useful over the years in interpreting the Establishment Clause. 492 U.S. at 593. The endorsement test emanates from the "prohibition against government endorsement of religion" and it "preclude[s] government from conveying or attempting to convey a message that religion or a particular religious belief is favored or preferred." Id. (citations omitted) (emphasis in original). The test consists of the reviewing court determining what message a challenged governmental policy or enactment conveys to a reasonable, objective observer who knows the policy's language, origins, and legislative history, as well as the history of the community and the broader social and historical context in which the policy arose. McCreary County, Ky. v. ACLU, 125 S.Ct. 2722, 2736-37, 2005 U.S. LEXIS 5211 at *41 (2005) (objective observer "presumed to be familiar with the history of the government's actions and competent to learn what history has to show"); Santa Fe, 530 U.S. at 308 (objective observer familiar with "implementation of" governmental action); Selman, 390 F. Supp. 2d at 1306 (objective observer "familiar with the origins and context of the government-sponsored message at issue and the history of the community where the message is displayed").

In elaborating upon this "reasonable observer," the Third Circuit explained in Modrovich, 385 F.3d at 407, that "the reasonable observer is an informed citizen who is more knowledgeable than the average passerby." Moreover, in addition to knowing the challenged conduct's history, the observer is deemed able to "glean other relevant facts" from the face of the policy in light of its context. Id. at 407; accord Capitol Square Review & Advisory Bd. v. Pinette, 515 U.S. 753, 779-781 (1995) (O'Connor, J., concurring). Knowing the challenged policy's legislative history, the community's history, and the broader social and historical context in which the policy arose, the objective observer thus considers the publicly available evidence relevant to the purpose inquiry, but notably does not do so to ascertain, strictly speaking, what the governmental purpose actually was. See, e.g., Selman, 390 F. Supp. 2d at 1306-07. Instead, the observer looks to that evidence to ascertain whether the policy "in fact conveys a message of endorsement or disapproval" of religion, irrespective of what the government might have intended by it. Lynch, 465 U.S. at 690 (O'Connor, J., concurring) ("The central issue in this case is whether [government] has endorsed Christianity by its [actions]. To answer that question, we must examine both what [the government] intended to communicate . . . and what message [its conduct] actually conveyed. The purpose and effect prongs of the Lemon test represent these two aspects of the meaning of the [government's] action."); Freiler v. Tangipahoa Parish Bd. of Educ., 975 F. Supp. 819 (E.D. La. 1997), aff'd, 185 F.3d 337 (5th Cir. 1999); Selman, 390 F. Supp. 2d at 1305-06.

We must now ascertain whether the ID Policy "in fact conveys a message of endorsement or disapproval" of religion, with the reasonable, objective observer being the hypothetical construct to consider this issue. Lynch, 465 U.S. at 690 (O'Connor, J., concurring). As the endorsement test is designed to ascertain the objective meaning of the statement that the District's conduct communicated in the community by focusing on how "the members of the listening audience" perceived the conduct, two inquiries must be made based upon the circumstances of this case.

Santa Fe, 530 U.S. at 308. First, we will consider "the message conveyed by the disclaimer to the students who are its intended audience," from the perspective of an objective Dover Area High School student. At a minimum, the pertinent inquiry is whether an "objective observer" in the position of a student of the relevant age would "perceive official school support" for the religious activity in question. Verbena United Methodist Church v. Chilton County Bd. of Educ., 765 F. Supp. 704, 711 (M.D. Ala. 1991) (quoting Bd. of Educ. of Westside Comm. Schools v. Mergens, 496 U.S. 226, 249 (1990)). We find it incumbent upon the Court to additionally judge Defendants' conduct from the standpoint of a reasonable, objective adult observer. This conclusion is based, in part, upon the revelation at trial that a newsletter explaining the ID Policy in detail was mailed by the Board to every household in the District, as well as the Board members' discussion and defense of the curriculum change in public school board meetings and in the media.

1. An Objective Observer Would Know that ID and Teaching About "Gaps" and "Problems" in Evolutionary Theory are Creationist, Religious Strategies that Evolved from Earlier Forms of Creationism

The history of the intelligent design movement (hereinafter "IDM") and the development of the strategy to weaken education of evolution by focusing students on alleged gaps in the theory of evolution is the historical and cultural background against which the Dover School Board acted in adopting the challenged ID Policy. As a reasonable observer, whether adult or child, would be aware of this social context in which the ID Policy arose, and such context will help to reveal the meaning of Defendants' actions, it is necessary to trace the history of the IDM.

It is essential to our analysis that we now provide a more expansive account of the extensive and complicated federal jurisprudential legal landscape concerning opposition to teaching evolution, and its historical origins. As noted, such opposition grew out of a religious tradition, Christian Fundamentalism that began as part of evangelical Protestantism's response to, among other things, Charles Darwin's exposition of the theory of evolution as a scientific explanation for the diversity of species. McLean, 529 F. Supp. at 1258; see also, e.g., Edwards, 482 U.S. at 590-92. Subsequently, as the United States Supreme Court explained in Epperson, in an "upsurge of fundamentalist religious fervor of the twenties," 393 U.S. at 98 (citations omitted), state legislatures were pushed by religiously motivated groups to adopt laws prohibiting public schools from teaching evolution. McLean, 529 F. Supp. at 1259; see Scopes, 289 S.W. 363 (1927). Between the 1920's and early 1960's, anti-evolutionary sentiment based upon a religious social movement resulted in formal legal sanctions to remove evolution from the classroom. McLean, 529 F. Supp. at 1259 (discussing a subtle but pervasive influence that resulted from anti-evolutionary sentiment concerning teaching biology in public schools).

As we previously noted, the legal landscape radically changed in 1968 when the Supreme Court struck down Arkansas's statutory prohibition against teaching evolution in Epperson. 393 U.S. 97. Although the Arkansas statute at issue did not include direct references to the Book of Genesis or to the fundamentalist view that religion should be protected from science, the Supreme Court concluded that "the motivation of the [Arkansas] law was the same . . . to suppress the teaching of a theory which, it was thought, 'denied' the divine creation of man." Edwards, 482 U.S. at 590 (quoting Epperson, 393 U.S. at 109) (Arkansas sought to prevent its teachers from discussing the theory of evolution as it is contrary to the belief of some regarding the Book of Genesis.).

Post-Epperson, evolution's religious opponents implemented "balanced treatment" statutes requiring public school teachers who taught evolution to devote equal time to teaching the biblical view of creation; however, such statutes did not pass constitutional muster under the Establishment Clause. See, e.g., Daniel, 515 F.2d at 487, 489, 491. In Daniel, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals held that by assigning a "preferential position for the Biblical version of creation" over "any account of the development of man based on scientific research and reasoning," the challenged statute officially promoted religion, in violation of the Establishment Clause. Id. at 489.

Next, and as stated, religious opponents of evolution began cloaking religious beliefs in scientific sounding language and then mandating that schools teach the resulting "creation science" or "scientific creationism" as an alternative to evolution. However, this tactic was likewise unsuccessful under the First Amendment. "Fundamentalist organizations were formed to promote the idea that the Book of Genesis was supported by scientific data. The terms 'creation science' and 'scientific creationism' have been adopted by these Fundamentalists as descriptive of their study of creation and the origins of man." McLean, 529 F. Supp. at 1259. In 1982, the district court in McLean reviewed Arkansas's balanced-treatment law and evaluated creation science in light of Scopes, Epperson, and the long history of Fundamentalism's attack on the scientific theory of evolution, as well as the statute's legislative history and historical context. The court found that creation science organizations were fundamentalist religious entities that "consider[ed] the introduction of creation science into the public schools part of their ministry." Id. at 1260. The court in McLean stated that creation science rested on a "contrived dualism" that recognized only two possible explanations for life, the scientific theory of evolution and biblical creationism, treated the two as mutually exclusive such that "one must either accept the literal interpretation of Genesis or else believe in the godless system of evolution," and accordingly viewed any critiques of evolution as evidence that necessarily supported biblical creationism. Id. at 1266. The court concluded that creation science "is simply not science" because it depends upon "supernatural intervention," which cannot be explained by natural causes, or be proven through empirical investigation, and is therefore neither testable nor falsifiable. Id. at 1267. Accordingly, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas deemed creation science as merely biblical creationism in a new guise and held that Arkansas' balanced-treatment statute could have no valid secular purpose or effect, served only to advance religion, and violated the First Amendment. Id. at 1264, 1272-74.

Five years after McLean was decided, in 1987, the Supreme Court struck down Louisiana's balanced-treatment law in Edwards for similar reasons. After a thorough analysis of the history of fundamentalist attacks against evolution, as well as the applicable legislative history including statements made by the statute's sponsor, and taking the character of organizations advocating for creation science into consideration, the Supreme Court held that the state violated the Establishment Clause by "restructur[ing] the science curriculum to conform with a particular religious viewpoint." Edwards, 482 U.S. at 593.

Among other reasons, the Supreme Court in Edwards concluded that the challenged statute did not serve the legislature's professed purposes of encouraging academic freedom and making the science curriculum more comprehensive by "teaching all of the evidence" regarding origins of life because: the state law already allowed schools to teach any scientific theory, which responded to the alleged purpose of academic freedom; and if the legislature really had intended to make science education more comprehensive, "it would have encouraged the teaching of all scientific theories about the origins of humankind" rather than permitting schools to forego teaching evolution, but mandating that schools that teach evolution must also teach creation science, an inherently religious view. Id. at 586, 588-89. The Supreme Court further held that the belief that a supernatural creator was responsible for the creation of human kind is a religious viewpoint and that the Act at issue "advances a religious doctrine by requiring either the banishment of the theory of evolution from public school classrooms or the presentation of a religious viewpoint that rejects evolution in its entirety." Id. at 591, 596. Therefore, as noted, the import of Edwards is that the Supreme Court made national the prohibition against teaching creation science in the public school system.

The concept of intelligent design (hereinafter "ID"), in its current form, came into existence after the Edwards case was decided in 1987. For the reasons that follow, we conclude that the religious nature of ID would be readily apparent to an objective observer, adult or child.

We initially note that John Haught, a theologian who testified as an expert witness for Plaintiffs and who has written extensively on the subject of evolution and religion, succinctly explained to the Court that the argument for ID is not a new scientific argument, but is rather an old religious argument for the existence of God. He traced this argument back to at least Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century, who framed the argument as a syllogism: Wherever complex design exists, there must have been a designer; nature is complex; therefore nature must have had an intelligent designer. (Trial Tr. vol. 9, Haught Test., 7-8, Sept. 30, 2005). Dr. Haught testified that Aquinas was explicit that this intelligent designer "everyone understands to be God." Id. The syllogism described by Dr. Haught is essentially the same argument for ID as presented by defense expert witnesses Professors Behe and Minnich who employ the phrase "purposeful arrangement of parts."

Dr. Haught testified that this argument for the existence of God was advanced early in the 19th century by Reverend Paley and defense expert witnesses Behe and Minnich admitted that their argument for ID based on the "purposeful arrangement of parts" is the same one that Paley made for design. (9:7-8 (Haught); Trial Tr. vol. 23, Behe Test., 55-57, Oct. 19, 2005; Trial Tr. vol. 38, Minnich Test., 44, Nov. 4, 2005). The only apparent difference between the argument made by Paley and the argument for ID, as expressed by defense expert witnesses Behe and Minnich, is that ID's "official position" does not acknowledge that the designer is God. However, as Dr. Haught testified, anyone familiar with Western religious thought would immediately make the association that the tactically unnamed designer is God, as the description of the designer in Of Pandas and People (hereinafter "Pandas") is a "master intellect," strongly suggesting a supernatural deity as opposed to any intelligent actor known to exist in the natural world. (P-11 at 85). Moreover, it is notable that both Professors Behe and Minnich admitted their personal view is that the designer is God and Professor Minnich testified that he understands many leading advocates of ID to believe the designer to be God. (21:90 (Behe); 38:36-38 (Minnich)).

Although proponents of the IDM occasionally suggest that the designer could be a space alien or a time-traveling cell biologist, no serious alternative to God as the designer has been proposed by members of the IDM, including Defendants' expert witnesses. (20:102-03 (Behe)). In fact, an explicit concession that the intelligent designer works outside the laws of nature and science and a direct reference to religion is Pandas' rhetorical statement, "what kind of intelligent agent was it [the designer]" and answer: "On its own science cannot answer this question. It must leave it to religion and philosophy." (P-11 at 7; 9:13-14 (Haught)).

A significant aspect of the IDM is that despite Defendants' protestations to the contrary, it describes ID as a religious argument. In that vein, the writings of leading ID proponents reveal that the designer postulated by their argument is the God of Christianity. Dr. Barbara Forrest, one of Plaintiffs' expert witnesses, is the author of the book Creationism's Trojan Horse. She has thoroughly and exhaustively chronicled the history of ID in her book and other writings for her testimony in this case. Her testimony, and the exhibits which were admitted with it, provide a wealth of statements by ID leaders that reveal ID's religious, philosophical, and cultural content. The following is a representative grouping of such statements made by prominent ID proponents.*fn5

Phillip Johnson, considered to be the father of the IDM, developer of ID's "Wedge Strategy," which will be discussed below, and author of the 1991 book entitled Darwin on Trial, has written that "theistic realism" or "mere creation" are defining concepts of the IDM. This means "that God is objectively real as Creator and recorded in the biological evidence . . ." (Trial Tr. vol. 10, Forrest Test., 80-81, Oct. 5, 2005; P-328). In addition, Phillip Johnson states that the "Darwinian theory of evolution contradicts not just the Book of Genesis, but every word in the Bible from beginning to end. It contradicts the idea that we are here because a creator brought about our existence for a purpose." (11:16-17 (Forrest); P-524 at 1). ID proponents Johnson, William Dembski, and Charles Thaxton, one of the editors of Pandas, situate ID in the Book of John in the New Testament of the Bible, which begins, "In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was God." (11:18-20, 54-55 (Forrest); P-524; P-355; P-357). Dembski has written that ID is a "ground clearing operation" to allow Christianity to receive serious consideration, and "Christ is never an addendum to a scientific theory but always a completion."

(11:50-53 (Forrest); P-386; P-390). Moreover, in turning to Defendants' lead expert, Professor Behe, his testimony at trial indicated that ID is only a scientific, as opposed to a religious, project for him; however, considerable evidence was introduced to refute this claim. Consider, to illustrate, that Professor Behe remarkably and unmistakably claims that the plausibility of the argument for ID depends upon the extent to which one believes in the existence of God. (P-718 at 705) (emphasis added). As no evidence in the record indicates that any other scientific proposition's validity rests on belief in God, nor is the Court aware of any such scientific propositions, Professor Behe's assertion constitutes substantial evidence that in his view, as is commensurate with other prominent ID leaders, ID is a religious and not a scientific proposition.

Dramatic evidence of ID's religious nature and aspirations is found in what is referred to as the "Wedge Document." The Wedge Document, developed by the Discovery Institute's Center for Renewal of Science and Culture (hereinafter "CRSC"), represents from an institutional standpoint, the IDM's goals and objectives, much as writings from the Institute for Creation Research did for the earlier creation-science movement, as discussed in McLean. (11:26-28 (Forrest)); McLean, 529 F. Supp. at 1255. The Wedge Document states in its "Five Year Strategic Plan Summary" that the IDM's goal is to replace science as currently practiced with "theistic and Christian science." (P-140 at 6). As posited in the Wedge Document, the IDM's "Governing Goals" are to "defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural, and political legacies" and "to replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God." Id. at 4. The CSRC expressly announces, in the Wedge Document, a program of Christian apologetics to promote ID. A careful review of the Wedge Document's goals and language throughout the document reveals cultural and religious goals, as opposed to scientific ones. (11:26-48 (Forrest); P-140). ID aspires to change the ground rules of science to make room for religion, specifically, beliefs consonant with a particular version of Christianity.

In addition to the IDM itself describing ID as a religious argument, ID's religious nature is evident because it involves a supernatural designer. The courts in Edwards and McLean expressly found that this characteristic removed creationism from the realm of science and made it a religious proposition. Edwards, 482 U.S. at 591-92; McLean, 529 F. Supp. at 1265-66. Prominent ID proponents have made abundantly clear that the designer is supernatural.

Defendants' expert witness ID proponents confirmed that the existence of a supernatural designer is a hallmark of ID. First, Professor Behe has written that by ID he means "not designed by the laws of nature," and that it is "implausible that the designer is a natural entity." (P-647 at 193; P-718 at 696, 700). Second, Professor Minnich testified that for ID to be considered science, the ground rules of science have to be broadened so that supernatural forces can be considered. (38:97 (Minnich)). Third, Professor Steven William Fuller testified that it is ID's project to change the ground rules of science to include the supernatural. (Trial Tr. vol. 28, Fuller Test., 20-24, Oct. 24, 2005). Turning from defense expert witnesses to leading ID proponents, Johnson has concluded that science must be redefined to include the supernatural if religious challenges to evolution are to get a hearing. (11:8-15 (Forrest); P-429). Additionally, Dembski agrees that science is ruled by methodological naturalism and argues that this rule must be overturned if ID is to prosper. (Trial Tr. vol. 5, Pennock Test., 32-34, Sept. 28, 2005).

Further support for the proposition that ID requires supernatural creation is found in the book Pandas, to which students in Dover's ninth grade biology class are directed. Pandas indicates that there are two kinds of causes, natural and intelligent, which demonstrate that intelligent causes are beyond nature. (P-11 at 6). Professor Haught, who as noted was the only theologian to testify in this case, explained that in Western intellectual tradition, non-natural causes occupy a space reserved for ultimate religious explanations. (9:13-14 (Haught)). Robert Pennock, Plaintiffs' expert in the philosophy of science, concurred with Professor Haught and concluded that because its basic proposition is that the features of the natural world are produced by a transcendent, immaterial, non-natural being, ID is a religious proposition regardless of whether that religious proposition is given a recognized religious label. (5:55-56 (Pennock)). It is notable that not one defense expert was able to explain how the supernatural action suggested by ID could be anything other than an inherently religious proposition. Accordingly, we find that ID's religious nature would be further evident to our objective observer because it directly involves a supernatural designer.

A "hypothetical reasonable observer," adult or child, who is "aware of the history and context of the community and forum" is also presumed to know that ID is a form of creationism. Child Evangelism, 386 F.3d at 531 (citations omitted); Allegheny, 492 U.S. at 624-25. The evidence at trial demonstrates that ID is nothing less than the progeny of creationism. What is likely the strongest evidence supporting the finding of ID's creationist nature is the history and historical pedigree of the book to which students in Dover's ninth grade biology class are referred, Pandas. Pandas is published by an organization called FTE, as noted, whose articles of incorporation and filings with the Internal Revenue Service describe it as a religious, Christian organization. (P-461; P-28; P-566; P-633; Buell Dep. 1:13, July 8, 2005). Pandas was written by Dean Kenyon and Percival Davis, both acknowledged creationists, and Nancy Pearcey, a Young Earth Creationist, contributed to the work. (10:102-08 (Forrest)).

As Plaintiffs meticulously and effectively presented to the Court, Pandas went through many drafts, several of which were completed prior to and some after the Supreme Court's decision in Edwards, which held that the Constitution forbids teaching creationism as science. By comparing the pre and post Edwards drafts of Pandas, three astonishing points emerge: (1) the definition for creation science in early drafts is identical to the definition of ID; (2) cognates of the word creation (creationism and creationist), which appeared approximately 150 times were deliberately and systematically replaced with the phrase ID; and (3) the changes occurred shortly after the Supreme Court held that creation science is religious and cannot be taught in public school science classes in Edwards. This word substitution is telling, significant, and reveals that a purposeful change of words was effected without any corresponding change in content, which directly refutes FTE's argument that by merely disregarding the words "creation" and "creationism," FTE expressly rejected creationism in Pandas. In early pre-Edwards drafts of Pandas, the term "creation" was defined as "various forms of life that began abruptly through an intelligent agency with their distinctive features intact -- fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc," the very same way in which ID is defined in the subsequent published versions. (P-560 at 210; P-1 at 2-13; P-562 at 2-14, P-652 at 2-15; P-6 at 99-100; P-11 at 99-100; P-856.2.). This definition was described by many witnesses for both parties, notably including defense experts Minnich and Fuller, as "special creation" of kinds of animals, an inherently religious and creationist concept. (28:85-86 (Fuller); Minnich Dep. at 34, May 26, 2005; Trial Tr. vol. 1, Miller Test., 141-42, Sept. 26, 2005; 9:10 (Haught); Trial Tr. vol. 33, Bonsell Test., 54-56, Oct. 31, 2005). Professor Behe's assertion that this passage was merely a description of appearances in the fossil record is illogical and defies the weight of the evidence that the passage is a conclusion about how life beganbased upon an interpretation of the fossil record, which is reinforced by the content of drafts of Pandas.

The weight of the evidence clearly demonstrates, as noted, that the systemic change from "creation" to "intelligent design" occurred sometime in 1987, after the Supreme Court's important Edwards decision. This compelling evidence strongly supports Plaintiffs' assertion that ID is creationism re-labeled. Importantly, the objective observer, whether adult or child, would conclude from the fact that Pandas posits a master intellect that the intelligent designer is God.

Further evidence in support of the conclusion that a reasonable observer, adult or child, who is "aware of the history and context of the community and forum" is presumed to know that ID is a form of creationism concerns the fact that ID uses the same, or exceedingly similar arguments as were posited in support of creationism. One significant difference is that the words "God," "creationism," and "Genesis" have been systematically purged from ID explanations, and replaced by an unnamed "designer." Dr. Forrest testified and sponsored exhibits showing six arguments common to creationists. (10:140-48 (Forrest); P-856.5-856.10). Demonstrative charts introduced through Dr. Forrest show parallel arguments relating to the rejection of naturalism, evolution's threat to culture and society, "abrupt appearance" implying divine creation, the exploitation of the same alleged gaps in the fossil record, the alleged inability of science to explain complex biological information like DNA, as well as the theme that proponents of each version of creationism merely aim to teach a scientific alternative to evolution to show its "strengths and weaknesses," and to alert students to a supposed "controversy" in the scientific community. (10:140-48 (Forrest)). In addition, creationists made the same argument that the complexity of the bacterial flagellum supported creationism as Professors Behe and Minnich now make for ID. (P-853; P-845; 37:155-56 (Minnich)). The IDM openly welcomes adherents to creationism into its "Big Tent," urging them to postpone biblical disputes like the age of the earth. (11:3-15 (Forrest); P-429). Moreover and as previously stated, there is hardly better evidence of ID's relationship with creationism than an explicit statement by defense expert Fuller that ID is a form of creationism. (Fuller Dep. at 67, June 21, 2005) (indicated that ID is a modern view of creationism).

Although contrary to Fuller, defense experts Professors Behe and Minnich testified that ID is not creationism, their testimony was primarily by way of bare assertion and it failed to directly rebut the creationist history of Pandas or other evidence presented by Plaintiffs showing the commonality between creationism and ID. The sole argument Defendants made to distinguish creationism from ID was their assertion that the term "creationism" applies only to arguments based on the Book of Genesis, a young earth, and a catastrophic Noaich flood; however, substantial evidence established that this is only one form of creationism, including the chart that was distributed to the Board Curriculum Committee, as will be described below. (P-149 at 2; 10:129-32 (Forrest); P-555 at 22-24).

Having thus provided the social and historical context in which the ID Policy arose of which a reasonable observer, either adult or child would be aware, we will now focus on what the objective student alone would know. We will accordingly determine whether an objective student would view the disclaimer read to the ninth grade biology class as an official endorsement of religion.

2. Whether an Objective Student Would View the Disclaimer as a Official Endorsement of Religion

The Supreme Court instructed in Edwards that it has been particularly "vigilant in monitoring compliance with the Establishment Clause in elementary and secondary schools." 482 U.S. at 583-84. The Supreme Court went on to state that:

Families entrust public schools with the education of their children, but condition their trust on the understanding that the classroom will not purposely be used to advance religious views that may conflict with the private beliefs of the student and his or her family. Students in such institutions are impressionable and their attendance is involuntary.

Id. (citing Grand Rapids Sch. Dist. v. Ball, 473 U.S. 373, 383 (1985); Wallace, 472 U.S. at 60 n.51).

In ascertaining whether an objective Dover High School ninth grade student would view the disclaimer as an official endorsement of religion, it is important to note that a reasonable, objective student is not a specific, actual student, or even an amalgam of actual students, but is instead a hypothetical student, one to whom the reviewing court imputes detailed historical and background knowledge, but also one who interprets the challenged conduct in light of that knowledge with the level of intellectual sophistication that a child of the relevant age would bring to bear. See, e.g., Child Evangelism, 386 F.3d at 531 ("[A] reasonable observer, 'aware of the history and context of the community and forum,' would know that [the school district] has a policy of assisting a broad range of community groups, that [the district] plays no role in composing the flyers that are sent home and does not pay for them, and that [the district's] teachers do not discuss the flyers in class." This detailed, sophisticated knowledge was imputed to elementary-school students.)(internal citations omitted); Good News, 533 U.S. at 119 (Admonished not to proscribe religious activity "on the basis of what the youngest members of the audience might perceive.").

Plaintiffs accurately submit that reviewing courts often make no distinction between an adult observer and a student observer when deciding whether a public school's conduct conveys an unconstitutional message of religious endorsement. However, when such a distinction is drawn, as is appropriate to do under the circumstances of this case, courts have recognized that because students are more impressionable than adults, they may be systematically less effective than adults at recognizing when religious conduct is unofficial and therefore permissible. See, e.g., Selman, 390 F. Supp. 2d at 1311 (textbook sticker stating that evolution was theory was particularly likely to convey message of endorsement "given the Sticker's intended audience, impressionable school students"); Joki v. Bd. of Educ., 745 F. Supp. 823, 831 (N.D.N.Y. 1990) ("To an impressionable student, even the mere appearance of secular involvement in religious activities might indicate that the state has placed its imprimatur on a particular religious creed."). Accordingly, the objective student standard is a means to ensure that courts exercise the particular vigilance that the Supreme Court has mandated for protecting impressionable children from religious messages that appear to carry official imprimatur; it is not a tool for excluding or ignoring material evidence.

After a careful review of the record and for the reasons that follow, we find that an objective student would view the disclaimer as a strong official endorsement of religion. Application of the objective student standard pursuant to the endorsement test reveals that an objective Dover High School ninth grade student will unquestionably perceive the text of the disclaimer, "enlightened by its context and contemporary legislative history," as conferring a religious concept on "her school's seal of approval." Selman, 390 F. Supp. 2d at 1300; Santa Fe, 530 U.S. at 308; Edwards, 482 U.S. at 594 (in addition to "[t]he plain meaning of the [enactment's] words, enlightened by their context and the contemporaneous legislative history," the Supreme Court also looks for legislative purpose in "the historical context of the [enactment], and the specific sequence of events leading to [its] passage")(internal citations omitted); see also Santa Fe, 530 U.S. at 308 ("Regardless of the listener's support for, or objection to, the message, an objective Santa Fe High School student will unquestionably perceive the inevitable pregame prayer as stamped with her school's seal of approval.").

We arrive at this conclusion by initially considering the plain language of the disclaimer, paragraph by paragraph. The first paragraph reads as follows:

The Pennsylvania Academic Standards require students to learn about Darwin's Theory of Evolution and eventually to take a standardized test of which evolution is a part.

P-124.

The evidence in this case reveals that Defendants do not mandate a similar pronouncement about any other aspect of the biology curriculum or the curriculum for any other course, despite the fact that state standards directly address numerous other topics covered in the biology curriculum and the students' other classes, and despite the fact that standardized tests cover such other topics as well. Notably, the unrefuted testimony of Plaintiffs' science education expert Dr. Alters, the only such expert to testify in the case sub judice explains, and the testimony of Drs. Miller and Padian confirms, the message this paragraph communicates to ninth grade biology students is that:

[W]e have to teach this stuff[.] The other stuff we're just going to teach you, but now this one we have to say the Pennsylvania academic standards require[] students to . . . eventually take a test. We'd rather not do it, but Pennsylvania academic standards . . . require students to do this.

Trial Tr. vol. 14, Alters Test., 110-11, Oct. 12, 2005.

Stated another way, the first paragraph of the disclaimer directly addresses and disavows evolutionary theory by telling students that they have to learn about evolutionary theory because it is required by "Pennsylvania Academic Standards" and it will be tested; however, no similar disclaimer prefacing instruction is conducted regarding any other portion of the biology curriculum nor any other course's curriculum.

The second paragraph of the disclaimer reads as follows:

Because Darwin's Theory is a theory, it continues to be tested as new evidence is discovered. The Theory is not a fact. Gaps in the Theory exist for which there is no evidence. A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations.

P-124.

This paragraph singles out evolution from the rest of the science curriculum and informs students that evolution, unlike anything else that they are learning, is "just a theory," which plays on the "colloquial or popular understanding of the term ['theory'] and suggest[ing] to the informed, reasonable observer that evolution is only a highly questionable 'opinion' or a 'hunch.'" Selman, 390 F. Supp. 2d at 1310; 14:110-12 (Alters); 1:92 (Miller). Immediately after students are told that "Darwin's Theory" is a theory and that it continues to be tested, they are told that "gaps" exist within evolutionary theory without any indication that other scientific theories might suffer the same supposed weakness. As Dr. Alters explained this paragraph is both misleading and creates misconceptions in students about evolutionary theory by misrepresenting the scientific status of evolution and by telling students that they should regard it as singularly unreliable, or on shaky ground. (14:117 (Alters)). Additionally and as pointed out by Plaintiffs, it is indeed telling that even defense expert Professor Fuller agreed with this conclusion by stating that in his own expert opinion the disclaimer is misleading. (Fuller Dep. 110-11, June 21, 2005). Dr. Padian bluntly and effectively stated that in confusing students about science generally and evolution in particular, the disclaimer makes students "stupid." (Trial Tr. vol. 17, Padian Test., 48-52, Oct. 14, 2005).

In summary, the second paragraph of the disclaimer undermines students' education in evolutionary theory and sets the groundwork for presenting students with the District's favored religious alternative.

Paragraph three of the disclaimer proceeds to present this alternative and reads as follows:

Intelligent Design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin's view. The reference book, Of Pandas and People, is available for students who might be interested in gaining an understanding of what Intelligent Design actually involves.

P-124.

Students are therefore provided information that contrasts ID with "Darwin's view" and are directed to consult Pandas as though it were a scientific text that provided a scientific account of, and empirical scientific evidence for, ID. The theory or "view" of evolution, which has been discredited by the District in the student's eyes, is contrasted with an alternative "explanation," as opposed to a "theory," that can be offered without qualification or cautionary note. The alternative "explanation" thus receives markedly different treatment from evolutionary "theory." In other words, the disclaimer relies upon the very same "contrived dualism" that the court in McLean recognized to be a creationist tactic that has "no scientific factual basis or legitimate educational purpose." McLean, 529 F. Supp. at 1266.*fn6

The overwhelming evidence at trial established that ID is a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory. As the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held in Freiler, an educator's "reading of a disclaimer that not only disavows endorsement of educational materials but also juxtaposes that disavowal with an urging to contemplate alternative religious concepts implies School Board approval of religious principles." Freiler, 185 F.3d at 348.

In the fourth and final paragraph of the disclaimer, students are informed of the following:

With respect to any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind. The school leaves the discussion of the Origins of Life to individual students and their families. As a Standards-driven district, class instruction focuses upon preparing ...


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