Discovery Institute Denounces University of Idaho’s Ban on Differing Views on Evolution as Unconstitutional

SEATTLE – “Every educator should be alarmed when an institution’s administrator issues an order preventing faculty from teaching `differing views’ about the subject they teach.” said David DeWolf, professor at Gonzaga University Law School. “Yet that is precisely what President Timothy White of the University of Idaho did when he issued a letter informing faculty, staff and students that it was “inappropriate” for anyone to teach “views that differ from evolution” in any “life, earth, and physical science courses or curricula.”

“This is viewpoint discrimination in its most naked form, and should not be tolerated if academic freedom means anything,” continued DeWolf, also a Senior Fellow with Discovery Institute, the nation’s leading research organization supporting the academic freedom of scientists who challenge neo-Darwinism.

“The University of Idaho’s statement does not simply ban discussions of evolution that are unrelated to the subjects of courses being taught,” explained DeWolf. “Nor does it merely forbid religious-based views of evolution from being taught in science classes. The statement offers a blanket prohibition on any ‘views that differ from evolution,’ no matter how scientific, and no matter how related to the courses under study.”

“Censorship and thought-control are apparently alive and well at the University of Idaho,” added Dr. John West, Associate Director of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. “This is an assault on academic freedom, and a barefaced violation of the Constitution’s guarantee of free speech.”

West added that the statement violates the University’s own guarantees in its Faculty Handbook, which declare that “academic freedom is essential for the protection of the rights of faculty members in teaching and of students in learning” and that “teachers are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subjects” so long as they don’t introduce irrelevant material.

“Despite the existence of legitimate scientific debates involving Darwinian theory, the right of teachers and professors to teach about these debates is often in question,” added DeWolf. “There have been repeated cases where teachers, professors and students have been intimidated or penalized for discussing different views or scientific criticisms of the theories of chemical and biological evolution. Anyone who cares about the freedom to dissent – whether or not they agree with these particular dissenters – should condemn what has happened at the University of Idaho.”

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Discovery Institute promotes thoughtful analysis and effective action on local, regional, national and international issues. The Institute is home to an inter-disciplinary community of scholars and policy advocates dedicated to the reinvigoration of traditional Western principles and institutions and the worldview from which they issued.