Aguillard v. Edwards: Louisiana Lawmakers Uphold 1987 Law That Was Already Found Unconstitutional

Louisiana legislators chose Monday to uphold a law previously found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. While the state's lawmakers have stayed true to their political agendas, their competence as lawmakers is being called into question.

The lawmakers on the Louisiana House Education Committee rejected a bill on Monday that would repeal the Louisiana's Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science Act, a law found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in the 1987 Aguillard v. Edwards case. The Balanced Treatment Act, which was originally passed in 1981, prohibits evolution science from being taught without a creationism supplement. Despite the law being unconstitutional, lawmakers rejected the repeal in hopes of preserving the act for future political needs (i.e. in the hopes that Aguillard v. Edwards one day gets overturned entirely) case). While this may help them solidify their own reelection prospects, rejecting the repeal goes directly against rulings of the Supreme Court, turning laws and constitutional findings into political pawns.

This isn’t the first time lawmakers in Louisiana have enacted laws that are unconstitutional. In 2008, the Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA) was made law, which allowed schools to choose to teach creationism. Experts in science education find keeping the unconstitutional law on the books to be profoundly useless. Josh Rosenau, programs and policy director at the National Center for Science Education, stated, “There’s no good reason to keep an unconstitutional law on the books.” While the LSEA cannot be enforced because of the 1987 Supreme Court ruling, the action by lawmakers sends a loud message about their priority of their political agenda over the legitimacy of the laws found constitutional by the Supreme Court.

Unfortunately, the failure to repeal the unconstitutional law further confirms that lawmakers, both Democrat and Republican, remain more concerned with elections than making laws that uphold the Constitution. If state lawmakers truthfully cared about upholding the Constitution, they would adhere to the legislative process by creating constitutional laws and repealing the unconstitutional ones.