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15.8 Political Battles Involving the Discovery Institute

  • 2000 Congressional briefing: In 2000, the leading ID proponents operating through the Discovery Institute held a congressional briefing in Washington, D.C., to promote ID to lawmakers. Senator Rick Santorum, one of ID’s most vocal supporters, inserted pro-ID language into the “No Child Left Behind” bill calling for students to be taught why evolution “generates so much continuing controversy.”
  • 2001 Santorum Amendment: As a result of the 2000 Congressional briefing, the Discovery Institute drafted and lobbied for the Santorum Amendment to the “No Child Left Behind” education act. The amendment encouraged the “teach the controversy” approach to evolution education. The amendment was passed by the U.S. Senate, but was left out of the final version of the Act, and remains only in highly modified form in the conference report, where it does not carry the weight of law.
  • 2002-2006 Ohio Board of Education: The Discovery Institute proposed a model lesson plan that featured Intelligent Design prominently in its curricula. It was adopted in part in October 2002, with the Board’s advising that the science standards do “not mandate the teaching or testing of Intelligent Design.” The Discovery Institute saw it as a significant victory. By February 2006 the Ohio Board of Education voted 11-4 to delete the science standard and correlating lesson plan adopted in 2002.
  • 2005 Kansas evolution hearings: A series of hearings instigated by the institute were held in Topeka, Kansas, in May 2005. They were organised by the Kansas State Board of Education to review how the origin of life would be taught in the state’s public high school science classes. The hearings were boycotted by the scientific community, and views expressed represented largely those of Intelligent Design advocates. The result of the hearings was the adoption of new science standards by the Republican-dominated board. In August 2006 conservative Republicans lost their majority on the board in a primary election. The moderate Republican and Democrats gaining seats vowed to overturn the 2005 school science standards and adopt those recommended by a State Board Science Hearing Committee that were rejected by the previous board.
  • 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District: Eleven parents of students in the school district of Dover, Pennsylvania, sued the Dover Area School District over a statement endorsing Intelligent Design as an alternative to evolution. The school board required it to be read aloud in ninth-grade science classes when evolution was taught. The plaintiffs successfully argued that Intelligent Design is a form of creationism, and that the school board policy thus violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. In December, 2005 United States federal court judge John E. Jones III ruled that Intelligent Design is not science and is essentially religious in nature.