This Sunday afternoon, February 27, from 4:00--6:30, at the Luther Bonney Hall at the University of Southern Maine, we will kick off the 2011 Civil Rights Films Series with a viewing of the Establishment Clause Classic, Inherit the Wind. The series is jointly sponsored by us and the Maine Law School chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. Following the film, Tom Newman and I will lead a discussion (with a great deal of involvement, hopefully, from the audience).
"Inherit the Wind" tells the tale of the trial of John Scopes, the Tennessee science teacher who was prosecuted for teaching Darwin's theory of evolution. The Scopes trial was one of the first significant ACLU cases, and though we lost, we did our best to make up for it in later cases such as Abington Township v. Schempp (which declared that school-sponsored bible reading violated the Establishment clause) and Epperson v. Arkansas (which overturned Arkansas's ban on the teaching of evolution).
The film is an important reminder of one of ACLU founder Roger Baldwin's favorite observations: no civil rights fight stays won on its own. Decades after the Supreme Court announced strong protection against entanglement between religion and public education, the ACLU is still engaged in fights over the science curriculum and over public funding of religious schools (which we expect will be a issue here in Maine this legislative session). Hope to see you Sunday.