Skip to comments.When Real Judicial Conservatives Attack [Dover ID opinion]
Posted on 01/09/2006 8:26:54 AM PST by PatrickHenry
If theres anything to be learned from the intelligent design debate, its that branding activist judges is the hobby of bitter losers.
For those who care about the fight over evolution in biology classrooms, Christmas came five days early when the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District ruling was handed down. In his decision, Judge John E. Jones III ruled that not only is the theory of intelligent design religion poorly dressed in science language, teaching it in class is an outright violation of the First Amendment.
The ruling was a concise and devastating demonstration of how law, precedent and evidence can come together to drive complete nonsense out of the courtroom. But if the aftermath of the event proves anything, it proves that nine times out of 10, if someone accuses a judge of being an activist, it is because he disagrees with the ruling and wants to make it clear to like-minded followers that they only lost because the liberals are keeping them down. Gratuitous overuse has, in just a few short years, turned the phrase judicial activism from a description of an actual problem in the legal system into a catch-all keyword for any ruling that social conservatives dislike.
During the months between the initial suit and the final decision, a high-powered law firm from Chicago volunteered some of its best to represent the plaintiffs pro bono, defenders of evolution and intelligent design mobilized, and few people really cared other than court watchers, biology nerds and a suspicious number of creationist groups. The trial went well for the plaintiffs: Their witnesses and evidence were presented expertly and professionally, and it never hurts when at least two of the witnesses for the defense are caught perjuring themselves in their depositions. Advocates for teaching actual science in school science classes were fairly confident that Jones was going to rule in their favor.
When it came, the ruling was significant enough to earn a slightly wider audience than the aforementioned court watchers, biology nerds and creationists. What drew interest from newcomers was not the minutiae of the trial, but the scope of Jones ruling and the scorn for the Dover School Boards actions that practically radiated off the pages. He ruled both that intelligent design was a religious idea, and that teaching it in a science class was an unconstitutional establishment of religion by the state. He didnt stop there, however.
It is ironic, he wrote, that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the intelligent design policy.
Such harsh language might provoke some sympathy for intelligent design advocates, if they hadnt immediately demonstrated how much they deserved it by responding not with scientific arguments for intelligent design or legal precedent to contradict Jones ruling but with ridiculous name-calling. The Discovery Institute, the leading center of ID advocacy, referred to Jones as an activist judge with delusions of grandeur. Bill OReilly also brought out the A word on his show. Richard Land, spokesman for the Southern Baptist Conventions Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and noted drama queen, declared him the poster child for a half-century secularist reign of terror. The American Family Association, having apparently read a different ruling than the rest of America, insisted that judges were so eager to keep God out of schools that they would throw out even scientific evidence for Him. Funny how so many creationist groups seemed to have missed the memo that intelligent design isnt supposed to be about God at all.
It was depressingly predictable that the intelligent design crowd would saturate the Internet with cries of judicial activism regardless of the actual legal soundness of the ruling. In only a few years, intellectually lazy political leaders have morphed an honest problem in the judiciary that deserves serious debate into shorthand for social conservatisms flavor of the week. The phrase has been spread around so much and applied to so many people that it only has meaning within the context of someones rant. It is the politico-speak equivalent of dude.
Only when one learns that Jones was appointed by George W. Bush and had conservative backers that included the likes of Tom Ridge and Rick Santorum can one appreciate how indiscriminately the term is thrown around. Jones is demonstrably a judicial conservative. In fact, hes the kind of strict constructionist that social conservatives claim to want on the bench. Their mistake is in assuming that the law and their ideology must necessarily be the same thing.
In the end, no one could defend Jones better than he did himself. He saw the breathless accusations of judicial activism coming a mile away, and refuted them within the text of the ruling. In his conclusion he wrote:
Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist Court. Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on intelligent design, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity of the Boards decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop, which has now been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.
Jones knew his name would be dragged through the mud and issued the correct ruling anyway. One can only hope that the utter childishness of the intelligent design response will alienate even more sensible people, and that the phrase judicial activism will from now on be used only by those who know what theyre talking about. No bets on the latter.
This article is a good analysis of the attitude of the losing side. [Bold, underlining and color-blocking added by me.]
If teaching religion is forbidden in the classroom, why is my child taught in school about Mecca, the beliefs of Islam, and some of their practices? Why is the creation story of the Cheyenne taught in school, but the creation story of Christians forbidden?
Must be some more of that mystery fine print in the constitution that only liberals can read.
It's also a good analysis of the encroaching uselessness of the term "judicial activist." As the author noted, judicial activism is an actual problem, with an actual definition. Unfortunately, it is quickly becoming a meaningless epithet tossed at any and all judges whose rulings don't happen to coincide with a particular ideology.
This dissimulation over religion has been at once the funniest and most disturbing aspect of this whole affair.
This same mindset is going to torpedo Samuel Alito. The last thing he needs is a bunch of--dare I say it--activists holding rallies in churches, braying about how the confirmation of Alito is the first step in bringing religion back into the public sphere. With friends like these, Alito needs no enemies.
Driving "nonsense" out of the classroom, huh?
Until evolutionists can demonstrate how a strand of DNA can self-assemble, survive in a hostile chemical environment, and purposelessly begin to reproduce and form the form the first living cell, I'd say the theory is baloney.
People need to learn to think for themselves and reject the "received knowledge" from evolutionists with their own stubborn belief system.
Don't expect an answer from our evo friends.
Because teaching about religion in the context of history and culture is not forbidden.
There are at least two separate issues here, although they are interlinked.
First of all, there is NO SUCH PHRASE in the Constitution as "Wall of separation between Church and State." That phrase was in a private letter from ONE of the numerous authors of the Constitution, is not part of the Constitution, and cannot be used to define the First Amendment EXCEPT BY ACTIVIST JUDGES.
The First Amendment says that there shall be no "establishment of religion" on a national level. The meaning of "establishment" historically is well known. It means a single state church, a single official church. The model the Founders were clearly thinking of was the Church of England, which at times the English monarchy had tried to foist on the American colonies as their official church.
At a secondary level, they were probably thinking of the Catholic Church in France, also an established national religion at that time, or the Lutheran Church in one of the Protestant German states.
The Constitution could and did permit establishment of religion within the states, if the citizens of those states chose to do so. Massachusetts had an established religion, as did several other states, and people who didn't like it were welcome to move to Rhode Island and Connecticut with Anne Hutchinson.
In later times, the citizens of the states freely and by their own votes ended these established churches. But there is nothing in the Constitution that would prevent them from reestablishing a religion in any state in the unlikely event that they chose to do so.
Still less is there anything in the Constitution that forbids praying in public, putting up Christian monuments on state or municiple land, or (probably) putting up nondenominational Christian monuments on federal land. There is nothing to forbid teaching of or about religion in the public schools. There is nothing to forbid saying that God created the universe. That was taught in all of our public schools until activist judges and closed minded fanatics managed to outlaw it.
The second issue is whether Darwinism has a monopoly on the truth, and should be enabled to demand that no competition will be permitted. I don't think so. But I've argued that on other threads and will not do so here. All I will say is that every one of these threads make it evident that Darwinists are closed minded, refuse to brook any competition, insist on a monopoly to brainwash our children who must never be permitted to hear any alternative views or questions, and ARE CLEARLY NOT CONSERVATIVE on any of these issues.
Perhaps they should wonder why they inevitably find themselves allied with the ACLU every time the issue of public school teaching arises.
"Until evolutionists can demonstrate how a strand of DNA can self-assemble, survive in a hostile chemical environment, and purposelessly begin to reproduce and form the form the first living cell, I'd say the theory is baloney. "
Until IDers can demonstrate the existence of a Designer (and address who designed the Designer), I'd say that the idea of ID (because it's not a theory) is baloney.
Until Creationists can demonstrate the creation of a young-Earth and prove the Earth is <10,000 years old (i.e. Biblical Creationism), I'd say that Creationism as scientific theory is baloney.
The real issue is not whether ID is science or creationism disguised as science...the real issue is who decides what students are taught...local school boards or federal courts.
What goes in a school in Dover, PA is a purely local issue. The Establishment Clause of the US Constitution has been so perverted since the 1947 Everson case that most people do not know that it applies to Congress and the federal government only. It would matter not one bit if the Dover schools spent an entire semester teaching about birth of Jesus...that is a state and local issue...and the federal government has no authority here. Granted courts, since 1947, have pretended that the First Amendment applies to local schools, towns and states...but it does not....and that is an easily provable fact. Applying the Constitution's prohibition on federal establishment of religion to state and local issues is judicial activism in every sense of the phrase
It's also one of the dumbest. The entire purpose behind the construct of ID was to somehow slip creationism past the First Amendment radar detectors of the federal courts, while at the same time it would be enthusiastically supported by creationists' buying the books and tapes.
Last time I checked, none of this is taught in biology class.
Why is the creation story of the Cheyenne taught in school, but the creation story of Christians forbidden?
It is not forbidden. When I was in high school, we read the Bible in literature class. Some high schools have comparative religion class, in which the Christian story is compared to various others.
The only thing forbidden is attempting to pass off religion as science, which is exactly what happened in Dover.
Exactly right...but, unfortunately, few people seem to get this (not so complicated) nuance of Constitutional law...and the federal courts now have 60 years of illegitimate rulings behind them which they can cite as some kind of authority for interjecting themselves in every local issue state-religion issue
....this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on intelligent design, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity of the Boards decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop, which has now been fully revealed through this trial.[emphasis added]
When a Bush appointed conservative Republican judge rules against ID with language like that, you know IDs time has come and gone. Defendants who lied under oath, expert defense witnesses who admitted there was no positive evidence for ID published in peer-reviewed science journals nor any experiments or research to back it up, and an activist law firm that shopped ID policy to school boards around the country to "gen up" a court challenge; ID's demise was orchestrated by a conspiracy of clowns, nitwits, and agenda-driven fanatics -- all of whom were on the pro-ID side.
Stick a fork in ID; in time, Dover will be seen as ID's Waterloo..... ID's demise will be recorded as a case intellectual suicide.
Bingo on who decides.
You: "The author of this article shows her ignorance right off the bat by declaring the term "judicial activism" to be a false one, while immediately lauding an instance of that judicial activism."
Spin only works if it has some resemblance to the subject being "spun".