Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Judicial Pre-emptive Strike

Happy news is a rarity these days. But I have to confess a minor glee upon hearing Judge James Jones' decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover School Board. He smote school board members as liars and faith peddlers who displayed a "striking ignorance" of ID itself. Check out this summary at the York Daily Record of various interesting snippets of his opinion. Biting, to say the least. Indeed, the most interesting aspect of the opinion was the strength of its vehemence. Judge Jones was clearly not happy to have been repeatedly lied to in his court and he let that be well known.

There was, however, another salient feature of Jones' opinion, which I expect will become a hallmark of almost every judicial rendering in the future. Jones included a pre-emptive clause in the opinion that explicity stated that his opinion was not that of an "activist judge." Jones is obviously well aware of the current political climate surrounding judicial decisions that come down against the Christian right: whenever they don't get their way, a decision is the result of "judicial activism" no matter how well-grouned in common or statutory law. Here is what Jones felt the need to write about his decision:
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 ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. 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.
I'd like to buy the good judge a beer, if I ever get the chance. And, just as Jones predicted, that is exactly what started burping out of the mouth of John West of the Discovery Institute. West called the decision "egregious" judical activism. Who would have guessed.

In case you might not understand the reference Jones makes to the "law firm" about which he speaks, I refer you to The Bonehead Compendium, Vol 66, Can I See Your ID? , which discusses the fact the law firm in question, The Thomas Moore Law Center, fished for just such a case for years before finally bumbling upon the Dover School Board. But TMLC isn't just any law center. As the BHC notes, TMLC has long history of pursuing Christain causes:
The center is funded by Domino's Pizza king and anti-abortion crusader Thomas Monaghan, and Richard Thompson, known for his unhinged pursuit of Jack Kevorkian. Indeed, these two "lawyers" have taken the keenest interest in defending unseemly behaviours exhibited by anti-abortion fundamentalists and other religious causes; threatening ob/gyn doctors, preventing gay couples from receiving job benefits and other of God's work.
Anyway, congratulations, Mr. Jones. I'll also note here that Jones -- appointed by Bush -- is a conservative and a Republican in the best sense of those words, a sense we see far too little evidence of anymore.


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