Thursday, September 20, 2007

Radan on The Legacy of the Scopes Trial

Peter Radan, Macquarie University, has posted a new paper, From Dayton to Dover: The Legacy of the Scopes Trial. Using Scopes as an example, the essay takes up the issue of the courts vs. the legislature in American "culture wars." Here's the abstract:
Since the Scopes Trial in 1926 the teaching of evolution in American public schools has been at the forefront of America's culture wars which have largely been fought in the context of the American Constitution's guarantee of separation of church and state. Attempts to ban evolution, although initially upheld, were struck down in the 1960s. Subsequent attempts to mandate the teaching of alternative points of view, most recently the theory of intelligent design, have been rejected as unconstitutional by the American courts. This issue has also fostered debate on the broader issue of whether culture war issues should be resolved by the courts through the process of judicial review or whether legislatures should have the final say in conformity with principles of democratic majoritarianism. The latter approach would require a significant change in the current interpretation of the First Amendment religion clauses.