Montana state legislator’s bill would require teaching intelligent design in public schools

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If Clayton Fiscus, a new Republican member of the Montana House of Representatives, has his way, intelligent design will soon be taught alongside evolution across the state.

On Nov. 5, Fiscus requested that a bill be drafted which would require Montana public schools “to teach intelligent design along with evolution,” according to the National Center for Science Education.

The freshman legislator’s expected bill is virtually certain to face court challenges in the event that it becomes law.

In 1987, the Supreme Court held in Edwards v. Aguillard that a Louisiana law requiring public schools to teach both creation science and evolution was unconstitutional because the law was intended to advance a specific religion.

In a 2005 case, Kitzmiller v. Dover, a federal district court in Pennsylvania ruled that the Establishment Clause prevents public schools from teaching intelligent design because it is essentially religion, not science.

The defendants in Kitzmiller v. Dover, a local school board, did not appeal the ruling. Consequently, the case had no chance to reach the Supreme Court. To date, the Supreme Court has not ruled directly on the constitutionality of teaching intelligent design in public schools.

The bill Fiscus wants drafted would not be the Montana legislature’s first foray into the continuing controversy over the teaching of evolution in schools. Most recently, in 2001, a bill was introduced that would have mandated the teaching of “competing theories of origin” rather than “the exclusive teaching of the theory of evolution,” notes the NCSE. That bill died in committee.

Representative-elect Clayton Fiscus is a realtor by occupation and the owner of Fiscus Realty, according to The Billings Gazette. He resides in Billings and will represent Montana House District 46 once he is sworn in.

The Montana House of Representatives reconvenes on Jan. 7, 2013.

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Eric Owens