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Balanced Treatment Act remains on the books

Louisiana's Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science Act remains on the books, after the Senate and the House of Representatives agreed to adopt a version of Senate Bill 205 lacking a provision repealing the act. The Balanced Treatment Act — not to be confused with the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act, enacted in 2008 and surviving three attempts at repeal — was enacted in 1981 and ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1987 in its decision in Edwards v. Aguillard.

As NCSE previously reported, SB 205 originally provided only for the establishment of foreign language immersion programs in public school districts. But after the Senate Committee on Education tabled Senate Bill 26, which would have repealed the LSEA, the committee amended SB 205 to repeal the Balanced Treatment Act. As amended, SB 205 passed the Senate on a 36-2 vote, despite the protestations of Ben Nevers (D-District 12), who expressed opposition to the repeal of the Balanced Treatment Act, arguing that it would be useful for it to be on the books in case the Supreme Court ever reverses its holding in Edwards. Significantly, Nevers was the Senate sponsor of the LSEA in 2008.

When SB 205 went to the House Education Committee, the provision that would repeal the Balanced Treatment Act was removed. The resulting version of SB 205 passed the House on a 69-30 vote on June 3, 2013, but the Senate rejected it, with no discussion, on a 36-0 vote on June 5, 2013. The bill then proceeded to a conference committee, which agreed on a version of the bill lacking the repeal provision. On June 6, 2013, the bill was passed by the House on a 58-22 vote and by the Senate on a 37-0 vote.