Antievolution bill in Arkansas

03.06.2017

Arkansas's House Bill 2050 (PDF), filed as a shell bill on March 6, 2017 — the last day on which bills may be filed in the 2017 regular session — would, if enacted, "allow public schools to teach creationism and intelligent design as theories alongside the theory of evolution," according to THV 11 (March 6, 2017). The bill was filed by Mary Bentley (R-District 73).

The federal courts have repeatedly held that teaching creationism, whether under the guise of "creation science" or "intelligent design," is unconstitutional. Among the relevant decisions is McLean v. Arkansas (1982), in which Arkansas's Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science Act was held to violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

HB 2050 is the only antievolution bill to be filed in Arkansas since 2005's House Bill 2607, similarly filed as a shell bill and subsequently amended. If enacted, the bill would have required the state Department of Education to include "intelligent design" in its educational frameworks and also encouraged teachers in the state to include it in their lesson plans. HB 2607 died in committee.