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Edwards v. Aguillard

482 U.S. 578 (1987)


Facts of the Case:

Louisiana had a "Creationism Act" that prevented the teaching of evolution unless it was accompanied by the teaching of biblical creationism. Neither was required to be taught, but the former could not be taught without being grouped with the latter. This was challenged by a group of parents for violating the Establishment Clause.



Decision:

In a 7-2 decision, the Court invalidated Louisiana's "Creationism Act" because it violated the Establishment Clause.


Majority Opinion: (Justice Brennan)

The Lemon test must be used to gauge the constitutionality of the Creationism Act. The Act does not have a secular purpose. It does not advance academic freedom and restricts the abilities of teachers to teach what they deem appropriate. Louisiana offers instructional packets to assist in the teaching of creationism but not for the teaching of evolution. The Act does not require the teaching of creationism, it only asserts such an interest when evolution is taught. "The preeminent purpose of the Louisiana Legislature was clearly to advance the religious viewpoint that a supernatural being created humankind...The Louisiana Creationism Act advances a religious doctrine by requiring either the banishment of the theory of evolution from public school classrooms or the presentation of a religious viewpoint that rejects evolution in its entirety."


Significance:

This decision found that requiring evolutionism to be taught with creation science does not further a secular purpose. Therefore, it is easily dismissed for violating the first prong of the Lemon test.


RealAudio of Oral Argument

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   Oral Argument.

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