Darwinists misinterpret significance of Santorum Amendment
The history of the Santorum Amendment is as follows, from none other than the National Center for Science Education (an http version is here):
On June 13, 2001, the US Senate adopted a Sense of the Senate amendment to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act Authorization bill, S 1, then under consideration. Proposed by Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), the amendment read:
It is the sense of the Senate that (1) good science education should prepare students to distinguish the data or testable theories of science from philosophical or religious claims that are made in the name of science; and (2) where biological evolution is taught, the curriculum should help students to understand why the subject generates so much continuing controversy, and should prepare the students to be informed participants in public discussions regarding the subject.
. . . . .On June 14, the bill, including the Santorum Amendment, passed the Senate 91-8 . . . .
. . . Because HR 1, the version of the bill that passed in the House of Representatives, contained no counterpart of the Santorum Amendment, the House-Senate Conference Committee needed to reconsider it when it met to reconcile the two versions of the bill . . .
In December 2001, the joint committee finished its work. The compromise bill was submitted to Congress, which passed it (renaming it the No Child Left Behind Act in the process) and sent it to President Bush for his signature, which it duly received on January 8, 2002.
The good news is twofold. First, the Santorum Amendment was substantially weakened during its stay in committee, eventually appearing in the following two sentences:
The conferees recognize that a quality science education should prepare students to distinguish the data and testable theories of science from religious or philosophical claims that are made in the name of science. Where topics are taught that may generate controversy (such as biological evolution), the curriculum should help students to understand the full range of scientific views that exist, why such topics may generate controversy, and how scientific discoveries can profoundly affect society.
. . . . Second, the Santorum Amendment, even in its weakened form, is not present in the bill that was signed into law. It appears only in the Conference Report, buried deep in the Joint Explanatory Statement of the Committee of Conference in Title I, Part A, as item 78. The Joint Explanatory Statement is not part of the bill itself; it is simply an explanation of how the conference committee reconciled the various provisions of the House and Senate versions of the bill. The law itself neither mentions evolution nor includes any sentiments reflecting the Santorum Amendment. Thus, the No Child Left Behind Act in no way requires teachers to teach evolution any differently.
The Santorum Amendment's history as told by Answers In Genesis is here.
The following facts are noteworthy:
(1) By a lopsided majority of 91-8, the full Senate adopted the Santorum Amendment into the Senate version of the bill as a separate amendment. It was not part of a take-it-or-leave-it package deal. BTW, it seems odd that an amendment that passed in the Senate by 91-8 was not considered in the House.
(2) The full House never had a chance to vote on whether to include the Santorum Amendment in the final bill -- the decision to not include the amendment in the final bill was made only by the House-Senate conference committee.
(3) I don't see how the Santorum Amendment's language was "substantially weakened" in the House-Senate conference report -- the original and final versions appear to me to say substantially the same things. The final version even "singles out" evolution, just like the original version, though not to the same degree as the original version. Also, I think that these two versions show the ineffectiveness of word-count computer programs in determining the degree of similarity in the ideas presented in two different texts -- I think that these programs would falsely indicate that there is little similarity in these two versions. These word-count programs were used extensively in the controversy over the charge that the ID-as-science section of Judge Jones' Kitzmiller v. Dover opinion was virtually ghostwritten by the ACLU.
(4) The No Child Left Behind Act does not -- as Wesley Elsberry falsely implied -- require or authorize withholding federal funds from states or local school districts that require, allow, or do not prohibit the teaching of intelligent design or other criticisms of Darwinism. Nor does the Act require or authorize withholding federal funds from states or local school districts that do not require or that prohibit the teaching of intelligent design or other criticisms of Darwinism. The Act itself is neutral in regard to the issue of teaching criticisms of Darwinism. The Santorum Amendment language in the House-Senate conference report was just an insignificant sop to the "fundies" (the name that Darwinists like to give to Darwin-doubters).
(5) The courts generally consider Congressional reports to be important in interpreting laws. For example, in Blum v. Stenson 465 US 886 (1984), a Senate report was the sole basis of a unanimous Supreme Court ruling that plaintiffs' attorney fee awards in civil rights cases may not be reduced on the basis that the legal representation is from a non-profit organization (I presume that the ruling also applies to legal representation that is initially pro bono). IMO the court misinterpreted that Senate report but that is beside the point. It may not seem fair that the courts often rely on Congressional reports, considering that (1) the reports are not voted upon by the full Congress, Senate, or House -- these reports are often produced just by committees, and (2) that the reports are not read by many of the members of Congress, who can't vote on the reports' contents anyway. Justice Scalia in particular is opposed to reliance on Congressional reports. 9th circuit appeals court judge Alex Kozinski said in a speech made in 1990,
Scalia has already had a major impact on the way courts look at legislative history. As we all know, and as we will discuss further tomorrow morning, Scalia takes a rather extreme view of the matter -- he refuses to look at it at all because he considers it irrelevant and unreliable: It is irrelevant because Congress passes laws, not legislative histories -- the law is what is written, not what some congressman said on the stump; and it is unreliable because congressmen knowingly litter the record with comments saying one thing or another about the meaning of the bill in the hopes that some unwary Supreme Court justice will glom on to their viewpoint, whether or not it truly represents an issue Congress had considered or decided.
Now has Scalia managed to persuade his colleagues, or even most federal judges, to go cold turkey on legislative history? Have lawyers stopped citing it? Of course not. But the fact is, legislative history just ain't worth what it was a few years ago. It used to be that you would get briefs and opinions that started and ended with legislative history, never once mentioning the text of the statutes they were purporting to interpret. Such things are much rarer these days. Scalia's constant carping on the matter has simply made it more difficult for judges and lawyers to avoid such annoying technicalities as the statutory language. (page 6 of pdf file)
Anyway, in the case of the Santorum Amendment language in the House-Senate committee's report, there are no "annoying technicalities" in the statutory language because the Act itself does not address the issue of evolution education. As I said, the Santorum Amendment language in the report was just an insignificant sop to the "fundies."
Now the problem is that no one can post any of the above stuff on the Austringer or Panda's Thumb blogs because it will be censored. Wesley "Ding" Elsberry has already censored comments on Panda's Thumb that tend to show that Cheri Yecke did not misinterpret the No Child Left Behind Act or the Santorum Amendment's significance.
Labels: Cheri Yecke #1