John Scopes: The Monkey Trial

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The Monkey Trial When the Butler Act was passed the American Civil Liberties Union financed a test case where John Scopes, a Tennessee high school teacher, intentionally violated the Act. Scopes was charged on May 5, 1925 with teaching evolution from a chapter in a textbook that showed ideas developed from Charles Darwin's book On the Origin of Species. The trial involved two celebrity lawyers, William Jennings Bryan for the prosecution and Clarence Darrow for the defense, and was followed on radio transmissions throughout America. Scopes was found guilty and fined $100, but on appeal the Tennessee Supreme Court set aside the guilty verdict due to a legal technicality. The ACLU had originally intended to oppose the Butler Act on the grounds that it violated the teacher's individual rights and academic freedom, and was therefore unconstitutional. Mainly because of Clarence Darrow, this strategy changed as the trial progressed, and the earliest argument proposed by the defense once the trial had begun was that there was actually no conflict between evolution and the creation account in the Bible. In support of this claim, they brought in eight experts on evolution. Other than Dr. Maynard Metcalf, a zoologist from Johns Hopkins University, the judge would not allow these experts to testify in person. Instead, they were allowed to submit…show more content…
Following Stewart's strategy, Bryan argued that the proposed scientific testimony was neither competent nor proper, given the legal issue in the case, which he insisted was simply whether Scopes had taught evolution in the Rhea County High School. To support his contention that evolution was morally pernicious, Bryan cited the famous Leopold-Loeb trial involving Darrow the year before the Scopes Trial. Darrow had saved two rich young child murderers from the death sentence, and Bryan cited Darrow's own

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