Small mercies, no. 2

A US judge has banned so-called ‘intelligent design’ from being taught in science lessons in a Pennsylvania school district. Report from this week’s EducationGuardian:

A courtroom battle seen as a test case for the teaching of science in America ended in a decisive victory for evolution yesterday when a federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled that it was unconstitutional to teach “intelligent design” in biology class.

In a 139-page decision that was scathing about the area school district and dismissive of the science of “intelligent design”, US district judge John Jones III ruled that the school district of Dover, Pennsylvania, had violated the constitution by ordering teachers to read a statement which challenged Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Yesterday’s verdict concludes a trial that was seen as the most important legal review of science and religion since the 1920s. It arrives at a time when the teaching of evolution is under attack in school districts from Georgia to Kansas and when the school district in Dover was seen as the cutting edge of a new effort by the religious right to inject its views into America’s state school system.

Needless to say, the ID nutters are not deterred. This one will run and run, but the careful nature of the judgment suggests to me that they are on a hiding to nothing. The US may currently be run by religious maniacs, but the Constititution firmly separates religion and state and I can’t see even a Bush-packed Supreme Court changing that.