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Atlanta — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has thrown out the trial court decision ruling that evolution disclaimers on science textbooks were unconstitutional.
In a unanimous decision the federal three-judge panel (including both Democratic and Republican appointees) stopped short of deciding the constitutionality of the stickers, and instead sent the case back to the trial court judge with instructions to hold more evidentiary hearings on the issue.
"This decision is a victory as it throws out the problematic ruling from the trial court," said Casey Luskin, an attorney with the Discovery Institute. "Essentially, the appellate judges found that some of the findings of the lower court were not substantiated by the evidence in the record, so now new evidentiary hearings must be held, which could completely change the trial court's original ruling against the school district."
"This is a major step towards a bigger victory for students, school districts, and objective science education," added Luskin.
The Cobb County School District had placed a sticker into biology textbooks explaining that the material on evolution "should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered."
"A final ruling in this case will be at least as important, if not more important, than the Dover school district case last year," added Luskin, a co-author of Traipsing Into Evolution Intelligent Design and the Kitzmiller vs. Dover Decision. "Eventually it's likely that a decision will be handed down from this federal appellate court governing legal decisions in multiple states, whereas the Kitzmiller decision was from a trial court with no legal force outside of the parties in that local case."
Discovery Institute believes that school districts should have the right to require science teachers to inform students about both scientific strengths and weaknesses of evolution. The Institute does not favor the mandatory inclusion of alternative scientific theories, such as intelligent design, and also does not favor the use of disclaimers, but instead recommends that school districts require teaching critical analysis of evolution.