Epperson v. Arkansas

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Epperson v. Arkansas, 393 U.S. 97 (1968), is a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruling that an Arkansas law was unconstitutional under the First Amendment:

it is unlawful for a teacher in any state-supported school or university "to teach the theory or doctrine that mankind ascended or descended from a lower order of animals," or "to adopt or use in any such institution a textbook that teaches" this theory.

Violation of this law was a misdemeanor and subjected the violator to dismissal from his position.

Justice Abe Fortas wrote the opinion for the Warren Court, and was joined by five other Justices. His reason was that "Arkansas' law cannot be defended as an act of religious neutrality."

Justices Hugo Black, John Harlan II and Potter Stewart concurred in the verdict, each writing a separate concurrence. Justice Stewart, for example, would have invalided the statute on vagueness grounds.

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