Wednesday, December 21, 2005

"Activist" Bush Judge Says No To ID

When U.S. federal district court judge David Hamilton recently ruled that the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution required the Indiana House of Representatives to deliver only non-sectarian prayers at the opening of its daily business, conservative Christians immediately attacked him as just another liberal activist judge. But what about that Bush-appointed judge who just struck down the teaching of intelligent design in public schools.

Judge John E. Jones III ruled that “intelligent design” as required to be taught in the Dover, Pennsylvania schools is not science and violates the Establishment Clause. Jones wrote, “We have concluded that it is not [science], and moreover that ID cannot couple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents.”

Judge Jones did not hold back in ascribing motives to the Dover School Board. He wrote: “The breathtaking inanity of the board's 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 was particularly perturbed by the fact that several board members lied during testimony in his court about the motive behind the enactment of the mandatory ID teaching policy in Dover’s public schools. He lamented, “It is ironic 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 ID

And what about the charge that his decision would make him an activist judge? Jones would have no part of it. Jones said those who disagree with his decision “will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge,” . . . [but] “this is manifestly not an activist Court.”

The Discovery Institute, a leading proponent of “intelligent design” theory, not surprisingly thinks differently of Judge Jones. “Judge Jones got on his soapbox to offer his own views of science, religion and evolution,” John West, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, said in a news release to “He makes it clear that he wants his place in history as the judge who issued a definitive decision about intelligent design. This is an activist judge who has delusions of grandeur.”

No Mr. West, Judge Jones simply understands that he must lay aside his own personal religious beliefs when interpreting our constitution. The Establishment Clause is there for a purpose. To simply read it out of the constitution as West and others on the Christian right would have us to do would be, well, unconstitutional.

Will this stop the Christian right from pursuing the idea in Indiana? Rep. Bruce Borders (R-Jasonville), a leading proponent in the House, told the Star the decision will not affect his plan to introduce legislation to address “problems with the theory of evolution.” He explained, “Basically, what evolution teaches is that one species turned into another, yet there are no examples in science of that around us. If evolution is the force that did this, why aren't there mixtures of species on planet Earth?” Another product of our fine education system this Rep. Borders is.

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