Hendren et al. v. Campbell et al.

On March 23, 1977, the Indiana Textbook Commission was sued by ninth-grade student Jon Hendren, his father Robert Hendren, and E. Thomas Marsh, another student's parent. The lawsuit followed the Commission's approval of Biology: A Search For Order In Complexity, a "creation science" textbook, for use in public school biology courses. After the plaintiffs' school district, West Clark Community School Corporation, had adopted that book as its sole biology text, the plaintiffs had requested that the book's approval be withdrawn. The Textbook Commission had convened an administrative hearing on the matter on March 18, 1977, and issued findings of fact reaffirming their approval of the textbook at the close of the hearing.

The case was heard by Judge Michael T. Dugan II, for the Superior Court of Marion County. On April 14, 1977, Dugan ruled that use of the textbook in public schools constituted government favor of a particular religious doctrine, thereby violating the First Amendment of the US Constitution and Article 1, Section 4 of the Indiana Constitution. Dugan also ruled that the Textbook Commission's findings of fact were "arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion," "inconsistent with the evidence at the administrative hearing," and also in violation of the aforementioned sections of the US and Indiana constitutions.

Like McLean v. Arkansas, this case was a precursor to the Supreme Court ruling in Edwards v. Aguillard, which prohibited state and local governments from requiring the teaching of creationism in the public schools.

A PDF of the Hendren v. Campbell decision is provided at the bottom of this page. It is text-searchable but poor quality; for ease of reading, we recommend the Talk.Origins copy linked below.

Related Off-Site Material

Nick Matzke's HTML reprint of the Hendren v. Campbell decision and editorial comments at Talk.Origins

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