With his near-win in Iowa and his recent rise in the polls, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum is facing new scrutiny about his views on intelligent design and evolution.

Reporters and others have expressed particular interest in the so-called “Santorum Amendment” authored by Senator Santorum, which was adopted in revised form in the Conference Report of the landmark No Child Left Behind Act. The Santorum Amendment won overwhelming bipartisan support in the United States Senate.

In fact, Sen. Ted Kennedy enthusiastically endorsed the Amendment on the Senate floor. Others voting in favor of the Amendment included Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. Joe Biden, Sen. Barbara Boxer, Sen. Harry Reid, Senator John McCain, and Senator Sam Brownback.

The Santorum Amendment did not mandate teaching intelligent design, nor did it encourage teaching creationism or religion in the classroom. Instead, it encouraged open discussion and inquiry by teachers and students of the evidence both for and against controversial scientific theories such as Darwin’s theory of evolution.

The approach advocated in the Santorum Amendment is favored by the vast majority of Americans, no matter what their race, gender, or political party.

According to a nationwide Zogby poll in 2009, 80 percent of likely voters agree that teachers and students should have the academic freedom to discuss both the strengths and weaknesses of evolution as a scientific theory.