Creationism Kicked: Indiana Bill Killed Over Fears Of Costly Litigation

No matter how Indiana lawmakers tried to modify the bill, there was no getting around the fact that it was blatantly unconstitutional.

Ding, dong, the bill is dead, the creationism bill is dead!

Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma has decided to table legislation that would have mandated the teaching of “creation science” in public schools. The bill had passed the Indiana Senate, albeit with a modification requiring the teaching of other theories on the origins of life on Earth from several religions, including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Scientology.  

The problem was that no matter how Indiana lawmakers tried to modify the bill, there was no getting around the fact that it was blatantly unconstitutional.

Did Bosma have a change of heart and realize that creationism has no place in public schools? Nothing of the sort. He simply realized that a little thing called the U.S. Supreme Court was in his way.  

“It seemed to me not to be a productive discussion, particularly in light that there is a United States Supreme Court case that appears to be on point that very similar language is counter to the constitution,” Bosma said, according to the Indianapolis Star. “It looked to me to be buying a lawsuit when the state can ill afford it.”

Bosma is, surprisingly, correct on both those points.

The U.S. Supreme Court has been very clear on “creation science.” In the 1987 case of Edwards v. Aguillard, the justices struck down a Louisiana law requiring the public schools to teach creationism alongside evolution. The law’s intent, the court said, was to promote the teachings of certain religious denominations.

Lawsuits definitely aren’t cheap. An attorney for the city of Cranston, R.I., estimated recently that taking a lawsuit over a public school prayer banner to the Supreme Court would cost around $700,000 for the entire process.   

In spite of the many reasons to abandon the creationism bill, which has been introduced multiple times by Sen. Dennis Kruse, we will probably see it again next year. Kruse has analyzed the makeup of the Supreme Court and he thinks the justices are ready to overturn Edwards v. Aguillard.   

“We have five pretty decent Supreme Court members who have been ruling pretty conservative on a lot of different things and they might have had a different ruling,” Kruse said, according to the Star.

That seems unlikely. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy isn’t usually on board with the promotion of religion in public schools, and even conservatives like Chief Justice John G. Roberts and Justice Samuel A. Alito might think creationism in public school science classes goes too far. Even if Kruse had a point, it would still cost the state of Indiana a lot of money to re-litigate the issue. If Indiana can’t afford the lawsuit this year, what makes Kruse think the state will be able to afford it next year?

Kruse seems to be obsessed with “creation science,” and he needs to give it up already. He has lost the fight. Besides, there is important legislative work to be done, which is where his focus needs to be.