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.
Not even that. Jefferson, the writer of that letter, was our ambassador to France at the time of the Constitutional Convention. And was suspicious of what was going on there . . .
The question is whether the school board was trying to promote a sectarian a religious doctrine on its students. To establish this, the court must decide whether ID is science or religion.
Add to that the fact that the study of religion-related issues is not the same as promoting the religion itself. For instance, one could have a class completely devoted to the study of the Bible, as it is the most influential book in history, without it being a state-endorsed religion.
Agreed, but irrelevent to the topic at hand.
As I understand it, Creationism and ID are not the same.
ID is one kind of creationism among many.
Can't even get this strawman correct? Pity.
The entire exercise has been about teaching religion in science class, no one has complained about teaching Christianity in comparative religion classes.
True. It will take some really fine conservative justices to reverse 50 or 60 years of bad constitutional law. But it should and must be done. The two worst problems are Roe v. Wade and so-called separation of Church and State, but there are others as well, most especially the clause that reserves to the states all powers not explicitly given to the federal government.
It can be done. It won't be easy, but it must be done, because arbitrary rule by unelected judges is nothing but tyranny.
. . . but then, on that reading there's nothing that would prevent the State of New York from requiring that newspapers have to have licenses to operate in New York - since the First Amendment doesn't say that it can't, only that Congress can't.
Who said anything about DNA self assembling? The original pre-life would be much simpler than DNA. As far as 'purposelessly reproduce', that is simply what RNA and DNA does. There are a number of other complex molecules that spontaneously replicate such as amino adenosine triacid ester (AATE).
This Court's jurisdiction arises under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1343, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In addition, the power to issue declaratory judgments is expressed in 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201 and 2202. This Court has supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' cause of action arising under the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367. Venue is proper in this District under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b) because one or more Defendants reside in this District, all Defendants reside in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the events or omissions giving rise to the claims at issue occurred in this District.If you want to express your own views, that's fine, but at least you should read the opinion and try to comprehend it:
As we will review the federal jurisprudential legal landscape in detail below, we will accordingly render only an abbreviated summary of that terrain by way of an introduction at this juncture. The religious movement known as Fundamentalism began in nineteenth century America as a response to social changes, new religious thought and Darwinism. McLean v. Ark. Bd. of Educ., 529 F. Supp. 1255, 1258 (E.D. Ark. 1982). Religiously motivated groups pushed state legislatures to adopt laws prohibiting public schools from teaching evolution, culminating in the Scopes "monkey trial" of 1925. McLean, 529 F.Supp. at 1259; see Scopes v. State, 154 Tenn. 105 (1927) (criminal prosecution of public-school teacher for teaching about evolution).
In 1968, a radical change occurred in the legal landscape when in Epperson v. Arkansas, 393 U.S. 97 (1968), the Supreme Court struck down Arkansas's statutory prohibition against teaching evolution. Religious proponents of evolution thereafter championed "balanced treatment" statutes requiring public-school teachers who taught evolution to devote equal time to teaching the biblical view of creation; however, courts realized this tactic to be another attempt to establish the Biblical version of the creation of man. Daniel v. Waters, 515 F.2d 485 (6th Cir. 1975).
Fundamentalist opponents of evolution responded with a new tactic suggested by Daniel's reasoning which was ultimately found to be unconstitutional under the First Amendment, namely, to utilize scientific-sounding language to describe religious beliefs and then to require that schools teach the resulting "creation science" or "scientific creationism" as an alternative to evolution.
In Edwards v. Arkansas, 482 U.S. 578 (1987), five years after McLean, the Supreme Court held that a requirement that public schools teach "creation science" along with evolution violated the Establishment Clause. The import of Edwards is that the Supreme Court turned the proscription against teaching creation science in the public school system into a national prohibition.
Don't be a hypocrite. The argument that religion must not be taught in science classes is nonsense. The courts have ruled, in the first place, that religion cannot be taught in the schools at all, unless it is somebody else's religion, like Islam or Aztec human sacrifice. The present decision which the Darwinists are all celebrating is based on the principle that no Christianity is allowed in the schools at all, not even on the football field.
Second, the sharp distinction between religion and science is artificial. If God exists, then arbitrarily ruling out all discussion of that fact hardly contributes to teaching the truth.
Religion and science have their separate areas, but Christianity traditionally believes that there can be no contradiction between true religion and true science. Darwinists, of course, although they will pretend otherwise, are basically atheists.
I'm not talking about partial evolution within species, which is really not controversial. I'm talking about Darwin's General Theory of Evolution, which was his only real "contribution." The general theory is a hypothesis, not a proven fact, and frankly, the accumulation of evidence over 150 years argues persuasively that it is false. The only way it can maintain itself is by striking what amounts to a kind of Muslim assertiveness. Darwinism must never be changed and never questioned. It must be taught to children in their formative years, and they must hear nothing to put it into question.
School boards should be able to determine what is taught as science?
Thus, your objection is not what they teach in science class, but the fact that there is a science class at all.
. . . and what are crosses marking the graves of deceased veterans in Arlington, but "Christian monuments on federal land?"
Teaching *about* religions (including Christianity) is fine. Teaching in a way to *advocate* a religion (or religions) is not.
Why is the creation story of the Cheyenne taught in school, but the creation story of Christians forbidden?
You're mistaken -- it's not forbidden to describe the "creation story of Christians". It was covered in *my* public school without any problem. What *is* forbidden is *pushing* any religion's tenets, as the Dover school board was attempting to do.
[mlc9852 wrote:] Don't expect an answer from our evo friends.
mlc9852 is wrong *again*, but I suppose he must be getting used to that by now.
As usual, for the anti-Evo whiners, a conservative Republican judge becomes "judicial activist," the protection of fundamental Individual rights by federal courts becomes an "invasion of federal heavy-handedness," and mendacious, perjurious defendants become martyrs and heroes. They might as well cut to the chase and tell us "black is white." Nothing they say makes sense, or comports with objective reality
Actually, I suppose they can teach just about any pseudo-science they want. A deranged school board could banish evolution and teach Lysenkoism (Stalin's favorite biology theory). The only constraining rule (other than a state's own constitution) is the First Amendment. They can't use a science class to establish a religious doctrine.
"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. "
On the other hand, why would God choose so complex a mechanism as DNA to spark life?
There is no inconsistency in believing in both God and some form of evolution. He gave us the brains to figure out how He did it.
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