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Louisiana to repeal 1981 creationist law?
Louisiana's Senate Bill 70 (PDF) would, if enacted, repeal the state's Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science Act, which was enacted in 1981 and declared to be unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court in Edwards v. Aguillard in 1987.Yet the law remains on the books. SB 70 was prefiled by Dan Claitor (R-District 16) on February 17, 2014, and referred to the Senate Committee on Education.
It is Claitor's second attempt to repeal the Balanced Treatment Act. In 2013, he amended Senate Bill 205, which concerned foreign language immersion programs in public school districts, to repeal the obsolete law, and the amended bill passed the Senate, despite the opposition of Ben Nevers (D-District 12), the senate sponsor of the so-called Louisiana Science Education of 2008, who argued that it would be useful for the law to be on the books in case the Edwards decision is ever reversed.
When SB 205 went to the House Education Committee, however, the provision repealing the Balanced Treatment Act was stripped from the bill, in part owing to the bill's original sponsor describing it as "oddball." The Senate rejected the House version of the bill, but a conference committee then agreed on a version of the bill lacking the repeal provision, which was subsequently passed by both houses of the legislature, leaving the Balanced Treatment Act intact.
"This is encouraging, if overdue," commented Barbara Forrest, Professor of Philosophy at Southeastern Louisiana University and a member of NCSE's board of directors. "It shouldn't take twenty-seven years and a Supreme Court case to convince the legislature to repeal the Balanced Treatment Act. But if the legislature is really serious about science education in Louisiana, it will focus on getting the equally pernicious Louisiana Science Education Act off the books."