Videos of Kansas U. "Difficult Dialogues" talk series
If you have a slow dial-up connection, the videos may be frequently interrupted for buffering, depending on the video player that is used. Fortunately, the video image is not continuous motion but consists of sequential still pictures, reducing the amount of buffering required. An alternative is just to wait for the video to load and then replay it.
I was of course most interested in the video of Judge Jones' lecture. Despite the fact that it is now Judge Jones' policy to not talk publicly about the specifics of the Kitzmiller case, the second of two speakers who introduced him made long quotations of the specifics in the Kitzmiller opinion, including quotations of Jones' hallmark expressions "traipse" and "breathtaking inanity."
One of Jones' major themes in his talks is that the Constitution, laws, court rules, and court precedents compelled him to rule the way he did. However, he had much more flexibility than he has admitted and some of his rulings were arguably actually contrary to precedents and court rules. For example, for any of the following reasons, he could have avoided ruling on the scientific merits of intelligent design and irreducible complexity:
(1) He already had an airtight case against the Dover school board members because of their blatant religious motivations.
(2) In accordance with the Supreme Court precedent of Edwards v. Aguillard, he could have refused to hear expert witness testimony on the grounds that none of the proposed expert witnesses had participated in the enactment of the school board's ID policy and so their testimony could not have illuminated the board members' motives.
(3) Courts generally have neither the competence nor the authority to rule on scientific questions and here there was no necessity for ruling on scientific questions such as often occurs in, say, product liability and environmental cases. At most, his sole task was to determine whether the Dover evolution-disclaimer statement constituted a government endorsement of religion. There is no constitutional separation of bogus science and state.
(4) Even if the Dover evolution-disclaimer statement constituted a government endorsement of religion, the statement could still be excused on the grounds that it would reduce offense to students and others who for various reasons reject or question evolution theory.
(5) He could have required that the statement be modified instead of scrapped entirely -- for example, he could have required removal of the words "intelligent design" because they imply the existence of a designer.
Also, many of his most controversial statements -- e.g., his "breathtaking inanity" statement and his claim that he is not an "activist judge" -- were certainly not required.
Labels: Kansas controversy