Can a state or school district criminalize or otherwise punish the teaching of evolution in public schools?

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

No, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down an anti-evolution law in its 1968 decision Epperson v. Arkansas. The Court reasoned that such a law violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment. “The State’s undoubted right to prescribe the curriculum for its public schools does not carry with it the right to prohibit, on pain of criminal penalty, the teaching of a scientific theory or doctrine where that prohibition is based upon reasons that violate the First Amendment,” Justice Abe Fortas wrote for the Court.