Facebook pixel Professor Edward Larson Interviewed on The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes -- Great Trials Podcast - Surf Report | Pepperdine Caruso School of Law Skip to main content
Pepperdine | Caruso School of Law

Professor Edward Larson Interviewed on The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes -- Great Trials Podcast

Professor Edward J. Larson is interviewed on the Great Trials podcast episode "The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes | The Scopes Monkey Trial | Part 1."  Professor Larson discusses why the Scopes Trial of 1925 still has such resonance today.

Via the Great Trials podcast:

Edward Larson, Ph.D., J.D., author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion and the Hugh and Hazel Darling Chair in Law and University Professor of History at Pepperdine University, explains the historical significance and societal impact of the landmark "Scopes Monkey Trial." In March 1925, the state of Tennessee passed the Butler Bill, which prohibited the teaching of evolution or anything but Divine Creation in schools. In response, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sought a test case and found one in Dayton, Tennessee science teacher John Scopes. During the eight-day trial, John Scopes pleaded not guilty to charges of violating the Butler Bill. He was represented by the ACLU and legendary trial attorney Clarence Darrow, who argued that the Butler Bill was unconstitutional and impeded basic freedom of religion rights. The special counsel for the prosecution was iconic American orator William Jennings Bryan, a political titan, former Secretary of State, celebrated speech maker and acclaimed U.S. Congressman who served as a major force behind the creation of the Butler Bill. The legal battle between Darrow and Bryan was truly an epic showdown, pitting two of the nation's best orators against one another in a court of law. On July 21, 1925, the jury returned a guilty verdict after nine minutes of deliberation, and Judge John Raulston ruled that John Scopes was ordered to pay a $100 fine for violating the Butler Bill. The verdict was overturned on a technicality at the Tennessee Supreme Court on January 15, 1927. In today's episode, learn why the Scopes trial is considered one of the most important cases in 20th century America and how it became the first trial to be broadcast live on the radio. Hear Edward Larson's analysis about the case, the precedents it set for Constitutional law in America and why the topic of evolution vs. creationism in schools is still being debated nearly 100 years later.

The episode may be found at Great Trials podcast