EDWARDS v. AGUILLARD

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
85-1513
Appellee 
Aguillard
Appellant 
Edwards
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the appellants)
(Argued the cause for the appellees)
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Term:
Facts of the Case 

A Louisiana law entitled the "Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science in Public School Instruction Act" prohibited the teaching of the theory of evolution in the public schools unless that instruction was accompanied by the teaching of creation science, a Biblical belief that advanced forms of life appeared abruptly on Earth. Schools were not forced to teach creation science. However, if either topic was to be addressed, evolution or creation, teachers were obligated to discuss the other as well.

Question 

Did the Louisiana law, which mandated the teaching of "creation science" along with the theory of evolution, violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment as applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment?

Conclusion 
Decision: 7 votes for Aguillard, 2 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Establishment of Religion

Yes. The Court held that the law violated the Constitution. Using the three- pronged test that the Court had developed in Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971) to evaluate potential violations of the Establishment Clause, Justice Brennan argued that Louisiana's law failed on all three prongs of the test. First, it was not enacted to further a clear secular purpose. Second, the primary effect of the law was to advance the viewpoint that a "supernatural being created humankind," a doctrine central to the dogmas of certain religious denominations. Third, the law significantly entangled the interests of church and state by seeking "the symbolic and financial support of government to achieve a religious purpose."

Cite this Page
EDWARDS v. AGUILLARD. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 21 September 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1986/1986_85_1513>.
EDWARDS v. AGUILLARD, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1986/1986_85_1513 (last visited September 21, 2014).
"EDWARDS v. AGUILLARD," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed September 21, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1986/1986_85_1513.