Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



Recent events suggest that the creationist movement is both potent and truly national. in scope. In California, the science curriculum guidelines for public schools were modified by a sympathetic state board of education to accommodate the creationist position.' Science textbooks for use in the public schools of California are being edited to dilute passages on evolution, and creationists almost achieved express recognition of their beliefs in the science texts. In Tennessee, a law has been passed that requires inclusion of the Biblical account of creation in biology textbooks used in the public schools." Similar legislation to require treatment of creationist doctrine in science textbooks was also introduced in state legislatures in Colorado, Michigan,' Washington," and Georgia.' Additionally, some local school boards, such as the Columbus, Ohio, Board of Education,", have passed resolutions to require inclusion of the creationist position. In Texas, a creationist campaign won important concessions from the state board of education,' and active creationist campaigns are also being conducted in Louisiana,'Indiana,'" Florida,' Illinois,' Virginia,' and Pennsylvania, among other states. Creationists have threatened to seek relief from the courts under the free exercise clause, although the first skirmish resulted in dismissal for failure to state a claim.' Intensified creationist efforts can be expected in state legislatures and before state and local boards of education across the nation. A creationist press has been organized to arouse the public and to supply the demand for public school textbooks bearing a creationist imprimatur. Of even greater significance is the possibility that national school textbook publishing companies will edit school textbooks to accommodate the creationist position. Ultimately, the issues raised in the controversy over science teaching and textbooks will probably have to be resolved in the courts. Litigation in California has thus far been forestalled as a result of a tenuous, and perhaps temporary, settlement. Therefore,it is probable that the issue will be litigated first in Tennessee,which has enacted creationist legislation. This article will explore the important and highly sensitive constitutional implications of the science teaching and textbook controversy under the establishment, free exercise, and free speech clauses of the first amendment and the due process clause of the fourteenth amendment.