Judge Jones the megalomaniac
Roddy Bullock said on The ID Report blog,
All judges face difficult decisions, and all judges make bad decisions. But the aftermath of the Dover litigation has shown that in this case it seems U.S. District Court Judge John E. Jones, III found a chance to push the limits of judicial restraint for a once-in-a-lifetime chance at history-making. Like a present day Clarence Darrow, he recognized the chance for media-driven immortality—the lights, the cameras, the high-powered attorneys, even Charles Darwin’s great-great-grandson was at his trial. Dispensing with subtlety or nuance, in the opinion of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District Judge Jones seemed determined to single-handedly win the culture war based on a set of facts suitable only for a skirmish. Knowing his scolding of a few religious folk would make him a darling to those he clearly holds in higher esteem, he took great delight in detailing the “breathtaking inanity” of the local school board. If only he had stopped there he might have retained some judicial dignity; but he felt it necessary to hold as a legal ruling that intelligent design is not science, and lifted word-for-word portions of the ACLU briefs to prove it.
Realizing on page 137 of his 139-page opinion that the slip of his judicial activism was showing, the judge awkwardly pulled down his worked-up robe by sternly assuring us “this is manifestly not an activist Court.” As if his self-serving denial of activism were not confirmation enough of, well, his activism, Judge Jones has spent the last year on the sawdust trail doing what judges rarely do: explaining and justifying. Obviously enjoying his new cult following, he assures fawners everywhere how importantly epic was his decision (while patronizing critics with a “a badly needed civics lesson”).
Ed "It's my way or the highway" Brayton of course disagrees with the above assessment, saying,
This is a pure ad hominem. It has nothing at all to do with the validity of his ruling, it's purely a conclusionary attack based upon a psychological analysis of the judge that Bullock has absolutely no way of supporting. He cannot possibly know Judge Jones' motivations for he is not inside Jones' head.
However, it is not necessary to be inside Jones' head, because his own words condemn him. Jones said in a speech at a national executive committee meeting of the Anti-Defamation League,
I was at one time counted as a potential candidate for governor of Pennsylvania in 2002. In the face of that, I chose to, as it were, jump off the political bandwagon -- merry-go-round expresses it better -- and seek a federal judgeship. An odd choice, some believed, but it wasn't really that, because since my days as a young lawyer, I had always aspired to be a judge. I love my job, and I wanted to have a chance to handle matters of importance.
What guarantee or promise was there that he would ever be the judge in a really important case? And why did he think that a federal district judge would be more likely to handle matters of importance than a governor of a major state?
As he continued his ADL speech, Jones got carried away in a megalomaniacal description of his feelings of basking in fame and glory --
It was evident that the lawyers had a very palpable sense that they were involved in something bigger and different than anything that they had ever experienced. As a result, I watched during the proceedings as some very good lawyers became even better. They took their game, so to speak, up a few notches because of the case they found themselves in. And for those of you who prefer sports analogies, it was at least a playoff game for them, if not the Super Bowl, and they knew that.
In September of last year, as you now know, we commenced the trial. It was, at times for me and I think for most of us who were involved in the trial, a rather surreal experience. As I noted at the outset, as judges, we labor most days in relative obscurity. The first day of the Dover trial, however, I arrived at the Federal Courthouse in Harrisburg to find it ringed with television satellite trucks, the hallways were jammed, and security, despite our best efforts, was clearly overloaded. We had electronic and print media from around the world present throughout the trial. We even had Charles Darwin's great-great grandson in attendance.
I can never see what is taking place in my courtroom before I emerge from chambers and take the bench, so I wondered what I would find. Well, when I emerged and as I walked up to take my seat on the first day of the Dover trial, I saw something that I had never seen before in my judicial career. I saw a courtroom packed wall-to-wall with high-tech gear, lawyers, parties, spectators, United States marshals, and a number of sketch artists. The sight of all this almost took my breath away. In fact, it took me a few moments to compose myself as the trial started. I had never seen anything like it.
. . . . as I looked at the monkeys projected on the wall in the courtroom, I was gripped for the very first time with the thought that I might be presiding over something that, at least in its time, was viewed as not only historic, but was perhaps a newer version of the Scopes Monkey Trial. And I had a very palpable sense, a very curious sense, that I could be living history.
At this point, the men in white coats should have come to take Jones to the loony bin to be committed for megalomania.
Bullock also wrote,
To prove beyond doubt that he could not be more pure of heart, he wants us all to know that he really is religious. Really. While the record shows he thought little of his religion prior to becoming a judge or thereafter, progressive reports (from him) since the Kitzmiller opinion have built him up to practical sainthood. Doesn’t he pastor his dear Lutheran church?
And Brayton responded,
Pure hogwash. In fact, Jones has spoken hardly at all about his religious faith, for the obvious reason that it has nothing to do with the validity of his ruling.
Wrong again, Ed. In an article in The Lutheran magazine, Jones talks a lot about his long and extensive religious background. But this article is just window dressing, because Jones' commencement speech at Dickinson College showed great hostility towards organized religion:
"The Founders believed that true religion was not something handed down by a church or contained in a Bible, but was to be found through free, rational inquiry. At bottom then, this core set of beliefs led the Founders, who constantly engaged and questioned things, to secure their idea of religious freedom by barring any alliance between church and state."
Furthermore, Jones' fans have made a really big deal about his being a "churchgoing" Republican.
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