The Supreme Court: Making Darwin Legal

A lot of late-show watchers remember Spencer Tracy's bravura portrayal of Clarence Darrow and Fredric March's performance as William Jennings Bryan in the movie Inherit the Wind, a reenactment of the 1925 Scopes "monkey trial." That classic courtroom confrontation seemed to come from another era, a benighted past when a 24-year-old substitute biology teacher named John T. Scopes was actually indicted for teaching Darwin's theory of evolution in a Tennessee schoolroom. But that era was not so distant after all.

Only in 1967 did Tennessee's legislature repeal its anti-evolution law. And in two other states—Arkansas and Mississippi—similar statutes remain in...

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