Friday, December 23, 2005
Federal district Judge John Jones ruling on the teaching of intelligent design in Dover county, PA public schools is a case study on federal interventionism in local affairs. First, full disclosure. I agree with Judge Jones that intelligent design is not science. In fact, unlike many "paleoconservatives", I find the evidence supporting evolution to be overwhelming. Nevertheless, it should be a cardinal principle in a society that prizes liberty that people be able to decide for themselves, based on their values and understanding, what to believe and what to teach their children. An issue such as evolution, which strikes a the core of many peoples' beliefs, is bound to be controversial. I can make a strong argument that this highlights one of the real problems with tax supported public education in general, where tax money is used to indoctrinate children in values they or their parents may not agree with. But if tax supported public education exists, it should be in full control of the local tax payers and their representatives, representing the prevailing views of the local community. The founding fathers wisely removed the federal government from local issues such as this. This is another example of where federal power was greatly augmented by the 14th amendment to interfere in purely local affairs. It is notable that the people of Dover county on their own voted out the "intelligent design" school board members. Federal intervention was redundant, except for those who wish to make a statement about the power of federal courts to impose their mandates on local school systems. We do not need philosopher kings, even if they are right, for today's philosopher king has the power to become tomorrow's tyrant.