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Pennsylvania school district to pay $1M in intelligent design lawsuit fees

[JURIST] Pennsylvania's Dover Area School District [official website] has agreed to pay $1 million in plaintiff's attorneys' fees after a federal district court found that the school district's inclusion of intelligent design theory in its high school biology curriculum was unconstitutional. In Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District [opinion, PDF; JURIST report], US District Judge John E. Jones ruled that teaching intelligent design as an alternative to evolution was an unconstitutional violation of the Establishment Clause. Jones' ruling entitled the plaintiffs to over $2 million in fees, but the plaintiffs agreed to accept half that amount to recognize the community for ousting most of the original board members [JURIST report] who approved the policy to teach intelligent design theory [Natural History backgrounder; JURIST news archive].

Although the case is not binding precedent outside the Middle District of Pennsylvania, intelligent design opponents hope the ruling will influence the decisions of school districts. Last week, the Ohio Board of Education [official website] voted to remove class discussion of intelligent design [advocacy press release] from its science standards. Currently at least eight state legislatures and several state and local school boards are considering policies which would implement intelligent design into their curriculum. Amy Worden of the Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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