May 5 - 1925 - John Scopes is Arrested for Violating the Butler Act
John Scopes was actively encouraged to present himself for arrest by local authorities in Dayton, Tennessee, who wanted him to admit teaching evolution in the local high school, which violated Tennessee's Butler Act. The Butler Act was swiftly enacted into law in Tennessee through the backing of Christian fundamentalists, and many people thought it violated the Constitution. The ACLU said they would back any challenge and the civic leaders of Dayton decided a little publicity for their town would be good. They got more than they bargained for, as multiple news outlets descended on the town and two famous figures joined the legal teams, William Jennings Bryan for the Prosecution and Clarence Darrow for the defense. Largely, the trial was designed as a formality, with Scopes admitting he taught evolution against State law. Instead, a dramatic showdown took place when Darrow called Bryan to be an expert on the Bible, trying to shatter Bryan's literal approach to scripture. The jury couldn't hear it and they found Scopes guilty. Eventually, Scopes would have the conviction held up by an appeals court, although they did reduce his fine.