Bowman, Kristi L.
March 2006
Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy;Spring2006, Vol. 29 Issue 2, p417
Academic Journal
Debates about teaching intelligent design in public school science classes are inflaming communities across the nation. These controversies present thorny Establishment Clause questions at a time when that doctrine is less clear than ever. The ambiguity is not due to a lack of case law: Just last year, the Supreme Court issued two seemingly contradictory Establishment Clause decisions, driven by what then-Chief Justice Rehnquist characterized as "Januslike" interests. McCreary County v. ACLU, with its focus on government purpose, is more applicable to curricular disputes such as intelligent design than Van Orden v. Perry, with its examination of passive, apparently uncontroversial expression. This Article thus examines McCreary County within the intelligent design context, focusing on McCreary County's decision to import the "objective observer" from the effects-endorsement analysis into the government purpose inquiry. Such analysis makes clear the ways in which a strict reading of McCreary County leads to undesirable results, and the reasons why the Court should retain McCreary County's focus on government purpose, but reject the expanded role of the objective observer.


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