Louisiana edges toward repealing 1981 creationist law


Louisiana's Senate Bill 70 (PDF), which if enacted would repeal the state's Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science Act, passed the Senate Education Committee on March 12, 2014, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune (March 12, 2014). Enacted in 1981, the Balanced Treatment Act was declared to be unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court in Edwards v. Aguillard in 1987. Yet it remains on the books. 

SB 70 was passed "without action," which the Times-Picayune explains allowed the committee "to move the bill to a vote of the full Senate without formally approving or opposing it." In 2013, a proposal to repeal the Balanced Treatment Act (included in Senate Bill 205) was passed by the Senate, only to be removed by a conference committee before a final version of the bill was passed by both houses of the Louisiana legislature.

Dan Claitor (R-District 6), the sponsor of SB 70 and the legislator who in 2013 amended SB 205 to include a repeal of the Balanced Treatment Act, emphasized that his bill targeted the Balanced Treatment Act alone, not "the Louisiana Science Education Act of 2008. This is a 33[-]year[-]old bill that was found unconstitutional 27 years ago." There is a current bill that would, if enacted, repeal the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act: Senate Bill 175 (PDF).

Lenny Ditoro, who is reportedly associated with the Louisiana Family Forum, spoke in opposition to SB 70, saying, "the legislation represented the opinion of [the] Louisiana legislature at the time [and] is a matter of history of this body." In 2013, opposition to the repeal was voiced by Ben Nevers (D-District 12), who argued instead that it would be useful for the law to be on the books in case the Edwards decision is ever reversed.