West Virginia's former "intelligent design" bill becomes law

West Virginia Senate vote on SB 280.

Photo by Will Price/West Virginia Legislature.

Senate Bill 280 was signed into law by West Virginia's governor Jim Justice on March 22, 2024, according to the Associated Press (March 22, 2024). "The National Center for Science Education said in a statement that the legislation is 'threatening the integrity of science education in the state's public schools.'"

The new law provides that "[n]o public school board, school superintendent, or school principal may prohibit a public school classroom teacher from discussing or answering questions from students about scientific theories of how the universe and/or life came to exist." The bill's lead sponsor, Amy Grady (R-District 4), declared that it would protect the teaching of "intelligent design," according to West Virginia Watch (January 23, 2024), although a federal court found "intelligent design" not to qualify as a scientific theory in Kitzmiller v. Dover in 2005.

The Associated Press reported that "Aubrey Sparks, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia, said the organization would be watching the law's implementation closely. If the wording of the legislation is ambiguous to her, she said, it's going to be ambiguous for teachers, students and parents, too."

Glenn Branch
Short Bio

Glenn Branch is Deputy Director of NCSE.