Christine O’Donnell v. The Constitution On Creationism In Public Schools
There’s one more excerpt from last night’s Delaware Senate debate that’s worth sharing:
BLITZER: Let’s give you a chance to respond to some of the things she said because in a television appearance back in 1998 on Bill Maher’s show you said evolution is a myth. Do you believe evolution is a myth?
O’DONNELL: I believe that the local — I was talking about what a local school taught and that should be taught — that should be decided on the local community. But please let me respond to what he just said.
BLITZER: We’ll let you respond but answer the question. Do you believe evolution is a myth?
O’DONNELL: Local schools should make that decision. I made that remark based on —
BLITZER: What do you believe?
O’DONNELL: What I believe is irrelevant.
BLITZER: Why is it irrelevant?
O’DONNELL: Because what I would support …
BLITZER: Voters want to know.
O’DONNELL: What I will support in Washington, D.C. is the ability for the local school system to decide what is taught in their classrooms and what I was talking about on that show was a classroom that was not allowed to teach creationism as an equal theory as evolution. That is against their constitutional rights and that is an overreaching arm of the government.
Basically, O’Donnell is saying that local districts have the right to decide whether or not to teach creationism and/or evolution.
The problem is that the Supreme Court has already said that they don’t. In 1987, in Edwards v. Aguillard, the Supreme Court held that school districts cannot teach creationism along side evolution in a science classroom:
The purpose of the Creationism Act was to restructure the science curriculum to conform with a particular religious viewpoint. Out of many possible science subjects taught in the public schools, the legislature chose to affect the teaching of the one scientific theory that historically has been opposed by certain religious sects. As in Epperson, the legislature passed the Act to give preference to those religious groups which have as one of their tenets the creation of humankind by a divine creator. The “overriding fact” that confronted the Court in Epperson was “that Arkansas’ law selects from the body of knowledge a particular segment which it proscribes for the sole reason that it is deemed to conflict with . . . a particular interpretation of the Book of Genesis by a particular religious group.” 393 U.S., at 103 . Similarly, the Creationism Act is designed either to promote the theory of creation science which embodies a particular religious tenet by requiring that creation science be taught whenever evolution is taught or to prohibit the teaching of a scientific theory disfavored by certain religious sects by forbidding the teaching of evolution when creation science is not also taught. The Establishment Clause, however, “forbids alike the preference of a religious doctrine or the prohibition of theory which is deemed antagonistic to a particular dogma.” Id., at 106-107 (emphasis added). Because the primary purpose of the Creationism Act is to advance a particular religious belief, the Act endorses religion in violation of the First Amendment.
So, no Christine, local school districts don’t have the right to make this decision themselves. But, then, Christine couldn’t name a single Supreme Court case she disagreed with so I’m not surprised she’d be unaware of this.