job that Kimba Wood and Zoe Baird hadrnfailed to land, dne to extracnrricular embarrassments?rnWhatever virtue Renornhad in 1993, she lost fest. After all, thafsrndie big boss’s specialty’—moral deflowering-rn— William MurchisonrnTHE TEACHING OF EVOLUTIONrnis back in the news, in a case that the mediarn—with their usual sensationalism —rnarc comparing to the Scopes trial of 75rnyears ago. On August 10, Steven Green,rnlegal director of the Washington-basedrnAmericans United for Separation ofrnChinch and State, sent a letter to thernKansas State Board of Education, threateningrnthat if the board adopted a “creationistrnperspective” in the state’s sciencernstandards, his group would “not hesitaternto bring a legal challenge.” OnrnAugust 11, by a six-to-four majorit}’, thernstatewide-elected board decided to removernany questions on “macroeolution”rn(the rtieor}’ that maintains generalKthatrnspecies evolve from one another, andrnthat, in particular, men and apes have arnconnnon primate ancestor) from staternscience exams. The board did not remorne questions on “microevolution”rn(the riieor}’ that species themselves evoK’crnas result of environmental factors) orrn”natural selection” (the theorv’ that somernspecies or some variations within speciesrndie while others survive as a result of betterrnadaptation to the natural environment).rnThe board left the 304 localrnschool districts in Kansas free to decidernfor tiiemsclves whether they would continuernto teach macroevolution, microcx’olution,rnand/or natural selection.rnOn August 13, the American CivilrnLiberties Union wrote to Kansas localrnschool superintendents warning themrnthat they would risk lawsuits if theyrnshoidd attempt to teach “ereatiornsm”rn(the theory that the world and eachrnspecies w ere created by God, rather thanrnbeing the result of an unpremeditatedrnevolutionary series of natural accidents).rnPeople for tiie American Way, accordingrnto the Associated Press, also suggestedrnthat “riiev would consider lawsuits if religion-rnbased standards were implemented.”rnMost local school districts barely haernthe funds to accomplish the educationalrngoals thev set for themselves, and thernthreat of a lawsuit, which could easilyrncost a district hundreds of thousands ofrndollars in legal fees, is a potent one. Inrnthe meantime, the nation’s newspapersrnwere full of articles ridiculing Kansas, accusingrnthe state of possessing a “flatrneartii” mentalih, of hurting its studentsrnon national aptitude examinations, and,rnmost damningh, of haing caved in to irrationalrnreligious fundamentalism. Intriguinglyrnenough, most press reportsrnfailed to mention the limited nature ofrnwhat had been done (preserving local autonomyrnin teaching, preserving microevolutionrnand natural selection onrnstatewide examinations) and were litticrnmore than “sk- is falling” incantationsrnagainst tiie purported prairie yahoos.rnWhat was going on? Nothing less,rnreally, than a preemptive strike bv thernforces of liberal secularism and centralizationrnseeking to stem a gronndswell inrnthe states to take back the education ofrntheir children from the supervision of thernUnited States Supreme Court in particularrnand the federal government in general.rnIn the earl- 1960’s, the SupremernCourt ruled (clearly against a centur’ ofrnAmerican tradition and the Framers’ design)rnthat the states could not requirernprayers or Bible-reading in their schools,rnand in 1987, in Edwards v. Aguillard, thernCourt ruled, in an opinion by arch-liberalrnactivist William Brennan, that Louisianarncould not mandate the teaching ofrncreationism alongside evolution becausernto do so w^ould be an establishment of religionrnprohibited by the First Amendment.rnClose readers of American historyrnand the First Amendment (and this journal)rnknow that the text of that amendmentrnis directed only at Congress, not thernstates, and at the time the First Amendmentrnwas ratified, there actually werernseveral established state churches and 11rnstates with religious qualifications for tiiernfranchise or for serving in public office.rnStill, using the dubious “selcetixe incorporation”rntheory (which has rather lessrnsupport in the historical record tiian doesrnevolution in the fossil record), thernSupreme Court, in tiie early 20di cenhirv,rndeclared that the 14th Amendmentrn(which forbids states from depriing anyrnperson of the “equal protection” of thernlaws or of life, libert}’, or property- withoutrn”due process”) somehow turned the Firstrn.Amendment (and other provisions of tiiernBill of Rights) from a protection againstrnthe federal goernnient into a club thatrndie federal courts could use to beat backrnstate government.rnThere can be no doubt, howeer, thatrnthe Constihition’s Framers, and e’en thernframers of the 14th Amendment, did notrnintend to change the long-standing Anglo-rnAmerican tradition that local governmentsrnare best equipped to handle domesticrnmatters such as education, andrneven the Supreme Court, in its 1995 U.S.rnV. Lopez decision, reaffirmed tiiis truthrnwhen it declared unconstitutional a federalrnlaw prohibiting the possession ofrnfirearms in or near local schools on therngrounds that school seeurit)’ was a local,rnnot a federal, matter.rnThe friends of local goernnient andrnthe enemies of secularism and centralizationrnhave been somewhat emboldenedrnby Lopez and by closely reading somernlanguage in Brennan’s opinion in Aguillard,rnwhere he acknowledged thatrn”Teaching a ariet’ of scientific theoriesrnabout the origins of humankind tornschoolchildren might be validly donernwith the clear secular intent of enhancingrnthe effectiveness of science instruction,”rnas well as Justice Scalia’s statementrnin his dissent in Aguillard that “The peoplernof Louisiana, including those who arernChristian fundamentalists, are quite entitied,rnas a secular matter to have whateverrnscientific evidence there may be againstrnevolution presented in their schools. . . .”rnOne can only hope that conservativesrnwill refuse to cave in to the bullying tacticsrnof the left, and perhaps find the fundsrnand the courage to meet them on theirrnown ground.rnThe scientific support for the theory ofrnmacroevolution is weak; there are, for example,rna plethora of what seem to bernspontaneously created species to bernfound in the fossil record of the Cambrianrnperiod. Philip Johnson, the Berkeleyrnlaw professor who has exposed tiie tiiinnessrnof the scientific evidence on whichrnproponents of macroevolution rely, reportsrndiat a Chinese paleontologist whornlectures on these fossils states that “InrnChina we can criticize Darwin but notrnthe government. In America you canrncriticize the government but not Darwin.”rnTo crificize Darwin, to challengernmacroevolution, even to remove mandatoryrnquestions on the subject fromrnstatewide exams in a Midwestern state isrnenough to rattle the chains of the ninernpercent of Americans who disdain thernnotion that a governing intelligence createdrnthe universe and may still be in control.rnThat nine percent, which has managedrnof late to prevail in the federalrncourts, may soon have some serious battiesrnon their hands, and it is no wonderrnthey appear to be running scared. ThernKansas skirmish shows that it isn’t cre-rn6/CHRONICLESrnrnrn