Execpt for sex eduction, Evolution is probably the most controversial matter in school education. Ever since the 1925 Scopes trial, battles between evolution and creationism have raged. Courts cannot ingnore the religious overtones of creationism. To determine whether an activty is Constituional, courts analyze the issues under the Lemon test.
The Lemon Test is based the holding of Lemon v. Kurtzman 403 US 602 (1971). In Lemon, the court held that state programs supplementing the salaries of religious parochial school teachers who teach secular subjects violated the Establishment Clause.
The Lemon court set out a three prong test to analyze potential Establishment Clause violations. A statute will be upheld if all three are met.
1. The statute must have a secular legislative purpose
2. Its principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion.
3. The statute must not foster "an excessive government entanglement with religion."
In Cobb County, the school board required placing a sticker in the high school biology textbook, which says:
This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.
Since other textbooks, such as history and physics texts, don’t require this sticker and only a biology book discussing evolution was subject to the requirement, the very first prong of the test is at issue. School Board members testified at the trial that the sticker was placed because of the concerns of Christian parents, suggesting that there is also an issue with the second prong, as well.
This case was a bench trial, so a decision will be rendered soon. I am interested in these cases because they frequently misuse experts and scientists. Interestingly, this judge must have thought so, too, because he refused to hear expert testimony at trial. I'll discuss the implications for experts and Daubert in later posts.