That ruling wasn’t appealed, meaning the legal precedent only applied to Arkansas. But later in that same decade, a similar case from Louisiana made it to the Supreme Court, and it reached the same conclusion. The prohibition against creation science has applied nationally since.
These precedents only apply to the teaching of creationism as science; there are other contexts, like a comparative religion class, where it might be appropriate to teach this idea. But the bill’s use of “theory” clearly indicates that it’s intended to insert the concept into science classes.While the state might end up being sued if this law passes, it’s just as likely that a teacher in Arkansas will exercise this permission and the suit will end up targeting the teacher and the school board they work for. If the local school board loses (which it would), there is a good probability that it would end up liable for the legal fees of whoever sues. Thus, the legislation serves as an invitation for local school districts throughout the state to rack up enormous legal bills.
Although the legal history of creationism in schools is available to anyone with a working Internet connection, the bill passed with 72 representatives, all Republicans, voting in favor. Of the chamber’s 22 Democrats, 21 voted against it, and one other didn’t vote.
It’s not clear whether these legislators are simply unaware of the legal precedents or if they are simply using this bill as an opportunity to signal their cultural affiliations. We’ve contacted its two sponsors to find out. As of publication time, neither had responded.