Judge Jones upholding judicial independence


A story in the Philadelphia Inquirer (June 5, 2006) discusses the campaign of Judge John E. Jones III, who presided over the Kitzmiller case, to educate the public about judicial independence. "Jones had anticipated he would be targeted by hard-line conservatives after concluding that teaching intelligent design in public schools as an alternative to evolution was unconstitutional," Amy Worden writes. "But he was surprised by how ignorant some of his critics were, in his view, about the Constitution and the separation of powers among the three branches of government. Jones said he had no agenda regarding intelligent design but, rather, was taking advantage of the worldwide interest in the case to talk about constitutional issues important to him." According to the Inquirer, Jones "has been flooded with more invitations than he can accept to speak to organizations and schools about issues that arose from the Dover, Pa., case on intelligent design and other emotionally charged cases," and has managed to accept at least ten such invitations.

For instance, Jones spoke to the Anti-Defamation League in Palm Beach, Florida, on February 10, 2006 (transcript). Avoiding the temptation to reiterate the grounds for his decision in Kitzmiller -- "I don't want to bore you to death, but in addition, I put out a 139-page opinion. And for those of you who are having trouble sleeping, I'll get you copies so you can read the whole thing," he joked -- he spoke instead about the trial, which he described as "a rather surreal experience" at times. Responding to critics of his decision, particularly Phyllis Schafly, he said, "had I decided the Dover matter in a different way, I would have then engaged in just the kind of judicial activism which critics decry. That is, to have ruled in favor of the School Board in this case based on the facts that I had before me at the conclusion of the trial, I would have had to have overlooked precedents entirely and thus impressed upon the facts of the case my sense or the sense of the public concerning what the law should be, and not what it is."