Webster v. New Lenox School District

(Full title: Ray Webster and Matthew Dunne, by and through his parents and next best friends, Philip and Helen Dunne, Plaintiffs, v. New Lenox School District No. 122 and Alex M. Martino, and as Superintendent of New Lenox School District No. 122, Defendants)

In 1987, Ray Webster and Matthew Dunne sued the New Lenox School District of Illinois, as well as Alex Martino, the district superintendent. Webster was a junior high school social studies teacher in that district, and Dunne was one of his students. After complaints about proselytizing in his class, Webster had been advised by the district to refrain from religious advocacy in his teaching, and in particular to refrain from teaching creation science. In the suit, Webster argued that he had a first amendment right to determine his own teaching curriculum, and that it was necessary to teach creation science in order to balance pro-evolution statements in the social studies textbook. Dunne, for his part, argued that he had the right as a student to hear about creation science in school.

On May 25, 1989, US District Judge George Marovich dismissed their complaint, ruling that Webster could not teach creation science without violating the first amendment, and that the district had a right to require Webster to teach within its established curriculum framework. Marovich also ruled that Dunne's desires to learn about creation science in school were outweighed by the district's interest in avoiding the violation of the estalishment clause or other students' first amendment rights. Webster appealed, but on November 6, 1990, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the district court decision.

All the legal documentation available to us for this case is provided at the bottom of this page. It is arranged in chronological order.