Jerred Vidal POL4420 Term 1 ANATOMY OF A CONSTITUTIONAL LAW CASE Edwards v Aguillard 482 U.S.

578 (1987) Background: In the early 1980s, the Louisiana legislature passed a law titled the "Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science in Public School Instruction Act". The Act did not require teaching either creationism or evolution, but did require that when evolutionary science was taught, the "creation science" had to be taught as well. The State argued that the Act was about academic freedom for teachers. Lower courts had ruled that the State's actual purpose was to promote the religious doctrine of "creation science", but the State appealed to the Supreme Court.1

Issue: The issue in question was whether the act enacted by the Louisiana state legislature violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. In order to determine whether an act violates the Establishment Clause, the court routinely applies the Lemon test (from Lemon v Kurtzman 403 U.S. 602): 1. The legislature must have adopted the law with a secular purpose.


“Edwards v Aguillard” Accessed Oct 12, 2007.

lp.2 It is ruled that an act or statute violates the Establishment Clause if it fails to satisfy any of these prongs.3 However. 482 US 578” http://caselaw.wikipedia.2._Aguillard. the court did note that alternative scientific theories could be taught. 4 “Edwards v Aguillard” navby=CASE&court=US&vol=482&page=578 Accessed Oct 15. Even though the State had argued that the act was for academic freedom. that act restricted freedom by requiring creation science be taught alongside evolutionary theory.findlaw. 3. Relevant Constitutional References: First Amendment and Lemon v Kurtzman Reasoning: The act failed to uphold the first prong of the Lemon Test. The statute's principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion. In fact. Ruling: Justice Brennan delivered the 7-2 majority ruling with Justices Scalia and Rehnquist dissenting that the act constituted an infringement on the Establishment Clause.4 Impact: 2 “Edwards v Aguillard. promoting religion. . Justices Scalia and Rehnquist dissented on the grounds that protecting academic freedom was an earnest secular purpose. Accessed Oct 12. The statute must not result in an excessive entanglement of government with thus upholding the first prong of the lemon test. 2007 3 Ibid. Brennan reasoned that the act did not give more freedom than had existed before.

ID seems to be the last best hope for creationist to incorporate their doctrine into public school education.Since the ruling (indicative of Judicial Restraint) did note that alternative theories could be taught. This lead to creation of ID in the early 1990’s. It was considered the case that allowed the development of Intelligent Design (ID). creationists quickly changed their literature to incorporate a more “scientific” approach to creationism. Intelligent Design was ruled a religious teaching and not science in Kitzmiller v Dover School District (04 CY 2688 2005) Analysis: This case was considered a landmark case in the never-ending battle between creationists and evolutionists. Intelligent design attempts to creation in the hands of an intelligent designer with all gaps in present evolutionary theory filled by the design of this intelligent designer. the creation of intelligent design ensued. Bibliography . Since the court had specifically stated that alternative scientific theories could be taught. 2007. 2007 1.wikipedia. 2. “Edwards v Aguillard. Accessed Oct 12.findlaw.lp.“Edwards v Aguillard” navby=CASE&court=US&vol=482&page=578 Accessed Oct . 482 US 578” http://caselaw.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful

Master Your Semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer for students: Only $4.99/month.

Master Your Semester with a Special Offer from Scribd & The New York Times

Cancel anytime.