Judge John E. Jones III Speaks About Kitzmiller v. Dover December 16, 2008

Judge John E. Jones III Speaks About Kitzmiller v. Dover

There are a couple recent articles worth checking out about Judge John E. Jones, III — the man who presided over the Dover Intelligent Design trial (and correctly ruled on the side of evolution and science).

One is an interview from PLoS Genetics (PDF):

Jane Gitschier: I don’t know if you’re even allowed to answer this. Before this case landed on your lap, did you have any thoughts about creationism or evolution, or the debate?

Jones: The precursor to my answer is that it doesn’t matter. A judge could be an avowed creationist, but he’s got to rule based on the facts and the law. In that event, he’d have to hold his nose and do his duty as a judge. I am a person of faith. I’m certainly not an atheist or an agnostic and I see some divine force somewhere. That said, having had a pretty good education, a great liberal arts education at Dickinson College, I must say that I never had any substantial doubts about evolution generally. I had forgotten, admittedly, a lot of what I had learned about evolution back in college. Moreover, a lot had happened since the ’70s, so my understanding was rudimentary. But I never had a crisis of confidence about evolution or a reason to doubt that it constituted a valid theory and good science.

Gitschier: Regarding the Memorandum Opinion itself, I found parts of it astonishing. You used words like ‘‘mendacity,’’ ‘‘sham,’’ ‘‘breath-taking inanity of the board’s decision.’’

Jones: You should have been there.

The other is an edited transcript of his talk from the American Humanist Association conference this past summer in the new issue of The Humanist. Jones was awarded the Humanist Religious Liberty Award:

The day the Kitzmiller v. Dover lawsuit was filed I was driving home from my chambers listening to a local radio station, and they said that this big bombastic press conference had been held in the rotunda of the State Capitol in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. It involved a lawsuit that had been filed by the ACLU, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and a large firm in Philadelphia, Pepper Hamilton, against a school board in York County, Pennsylvania. It was filed in Middle District Federal Court (my court) as an establishment clause challenge to a policy involving intelligent design. And as I blissfully drove home I had two thoughts: one was that although I consider myself reasonably well read, I couldn’t exactly remember having heard about intelligent design. And the second thought I had was, I wonder who’s going to get that case? I went home and said to my wife, somebody’s going to get that case and it’s going to be really big.

Of course it landed on my docket. And up until the time I did the scheduling conference the following month (January 2005) I believed that through some suasion and through my efforts I could bring the parties to a settlement. But you could tell from their demeanor and their body language that the case wasn’t going to settle, and I thought, well, now we’re heading inexorably towards trial.

This is great material for anyone who wants details about the trial you couldn’t hear from any reporter or author.

Browse Our Archives

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Very interesting. I have great respect for someone of faith that can also follow a rational mode of thought. It’s very simple: be educated, and use your intelligence to understand that education and you will lead a good and rational life.

  • The PLoS Genetics interview was wonderfully done. It got him to bring out enough detail about not only his thought processes but also the reasons why the law worked the way that it did that it was a fascinating read.

  • Richard Wade

    I’ll always be grateful to Judge Jones for the best phrase I had read in years, when I read his opinion just after it was published: “breathtaking inanity” will always make me smile.

  • oh! this is going to be fascinating to read. thanks so much.

error: Content is protected !!