Judge John E. Jones III could still be chairman of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board if millions of evangelical Christians had not pulled the lever for George W. Bush in 2000. Yet this federal judge, who owes his position entirely to those voters and the president who appointed him, stuck the knife in the backs of those who brought him to the dance in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.
Jones issued his ruling, a 139-page rant against anyone who objects to force-feeding public schoolchildren with the theory of evolution, on Dec. 20. He accused parents and school board members of "breathtaking inanity" for wanting their children to learn that "intelligent design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Charles Darwin's view."
Contrary to most media coverage, the Dover case was not about whether Darwin's theory of evolution, as set forth in "The Origin of the Species," or the theory of "intelligent design" is correct or should be taught. The Dover school board did not propose to say intelligent design is scientific or valid, or even to decrease its teaching of evolution.
Students were merely to be read a brief statement asserting that "gaps in the theory exist for which there is no evidence," and that intelligent design provides an explanation for the origin of life that could be further explored by consulting a book in the school library. While not denying that those statements may be true (it is undeniable that evolution has gaps), the judge nevertheless permanently enjoined the school board "from requiring teachers to denigrate or disparage the scientific theory of evolution" and from saying that the theory has gaps.
Jones exhibited his bias for judicial activism with public remarks that should have caused his recusal. Signaling that he would exploit the dispute, Jones boasted, "It certainly is one of the most significant cases in United States history. ... Even Charles Darwin's great grandson is attending the trial."
Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge described Jones as a close friend and future candidate for governor. When questioned, Jones did not rule this out. Playing up to the New York Times in an article published days before his opinion was released, Jones made the silly boast that he reads five newspapers a day.
The New York Times reported that Jones was awe-struck that his case appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone, and that he even bragged to his wife about it before buying a copy.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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