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Edwards v. Aguillard

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In Edwards v. Aguillard, 482 U.S. 578 (1987), the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Louisiana's "Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science in Public School Instruction" Act, La. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 17:286.1-17:286.7 (West 1982), before it ever went into effect. The 7-2 Court declared it to be facially invalid as violative of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

The Louisiana law forbade the teaching of the theory of evolution in public schools unless accompanied by instruction in "creation science." § 17:286.4A. No school is required to teach evolution or creation science. If either is taught, however, the other must also be taught. Ibid. The theories of evolution and creation science are statutorily defined as "the scientific evidences for [creation or evolution] and inferences from those scientific evidences." §§ 17.286.3(2) and (3).

Justice William Brennan wrote the decision and was joined by the liberal wing of the court. Justice Antonin Scalia and Chief Justice William Rehnquist dissented.

Justice Byron White wrote a separate concurrence, implying that the outcome was necessitated by prior court rulings with which he may disagree. "Unless, therefore, we are to reconsider the Court's decisions interpreting the Establishment Clause, I agree that the judgment of the Court of Appeals must be affirmed."

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