Early in his career, Dayton, Tennessee lawyer Sue K. Hicks and his brother Herbert were on the defense team during The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas, commonly referred to as the Scopes trial or the Scopes monkey trial. The trial was a test of state law that made it illegal for Tennessee’s public schools “to teach any theory that denies the story of the divine creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals.” Big-name lawyers William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow took opposing sides at the trial. Their participation launched a media circus, and The Scopes Trial made the debate on the intersection of science and religion in the public schools explode into an still ongoing global conversation.
After the trial Hicks went on to serve as a judge in Tennessee and to be active with various civic organizations. He remained interested in the issues involved within the Scopes Trial. Hicks considered Inherit the Wind (the popular play and movie about the trial) a "travesty" and had to be dissuaded by his family from hiring television time to set the story straight.