Parents Who Support Intelligent Design Denied Role in Lawsuit

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge John Jones issued a decision denying the request of three families who support the teaching of intelligent design from intervening in a lawsuit against the Dover Area School District.

The Dover Area School District approved a policy in October 2004 that requires ninth-grade biology teachers to read a statement on intelligent design when they teach about evolution.

Intelligent design is the idea that the world is so complex, there must have been an unspecified divine being behind its creation. The school district asserts that the policy is meant to address alternative theories for the origin of life.

Eight families have brought a federal lawsuit against the school district, charging that the policy violates the separation of church and state. They argue that intelligent design is simply a secular form of creationism, and that the teaching of intelligent design promotes a religious viewpoint in public schools.

In February, three families supporting the teaching of intelligent design filed a request to intervene. They argued that the current lawsuit violates their children’s First Amendment rights to learn about intelligent design.

“Right now, the only perspectives [that will be heard]… are those parents who want to restrict the amount of information available,” said Stephen A. Searfass, attorney for the three families. The request would have allowed the three families to testify in support of the school district’s policy.

Judge Jones denied the request to intervene, stating that there is no basis for the argument that the current lawsuit violates the families’ First Amendment rights. Jones also denied a request from the school district to dismiss some of the plaintiffs whose children are not affected by the policy.

The Rutherford Institute, a civil liberties group who filed the request on behalf of the three families, said that they are considering an appeal to Jones’ ruling.