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Edwards v. Aguillard

Edwards v. Aguillard was a 1987 U.S. Supreme Court case in which the constitutionality of Louisiana law requiring schools to teach creationism was heard. Ultimately, the Supreme Court ruled that creationism was in fact an advancement of religion, and the law was struck down.

Creationism and Edwards v. Aguillard

Edwards v. AguillardIn the 1980s, several states attempted to reintroduce the teaching of creationism in public schools.

  • In 1981, Louisiana governor David C. Treen signed such a bill into law, one that required that creationism be taught alongside evolution.
  • In a seven to two decision handed down on June 19, 1987, Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan spoke for the majority in declaring that the law infringed upon the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
  • The Court further found that the Louisiana law limited the ability of teachers to present legitimate scientific principles.

Edwards v. Aguillard Decision

Justice Antonin Scalia, joined by Chief Justice William Rehnquist, dissented and believed that the Louisiana law was promoting “academic freedom.” Following the Supreme Court’s decision, advocates of creationism (or creation science) changed their term to “intelligent design” in an effort to continue to promote myth over science. The Supreme Court ruled in 2005 in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District that teaching intelligent design in public schools also violated the First Amendment.

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