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Monday, January 01, 2007

Judge Jones still talking through his hat

Happy new year, everyone.

Judge Jones is still using red-herring issues like judicial independence and the "Rule of Law" in a desperate attempt to dodge and discredit legitimate criticisms of his Kitzmiller v. Dover rulings. Jones said in a recent November 26 speech at Bennington College,

What all of them had in common -- all of these criticisms -- was that they omitted to note the role of precedent, how judges work, the Rule of Law. Trial judges carefully find the facts in a case and apply existing precedent as handed down by higher courts -- most notably, in this case, the Supreme Court of the United States. There was simply no attempt [in these media criticisms] to illuminate those issues or educate the public.

Providing "illumination" or "public education" about those issues -- i.e., "the role of precedent, how judges work, and the Rule of Law" -- are generally not purposes of criticisms of judicial decisions, so why should the criticisms of the Kitzmiller rulings discuss those issues? Also, Jones' suggestion that his critics and the general public need a "civics lesson" in how the courts are supposed to operate is very insulting.

Also, the main reasons why a lot of the criticisms of the Kitzmiller rulings are not accompanied by citations of laws and precedents are that (1) many of those rulings were discretionary and (2) there were no laws or precedents to apply. And there are certainly many laws and precedents that can be cited in support of criticisms of the Kitzmiller rulings -- examples are contained here, here, here, and here.

Jones continued,
In this case [Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District], without getting excessively legal, there were two tests I had to apply. They are the Lemon Test and Endorsement Test, and what they are, in essence, are carefully crafted tests handed down by the Supreme Court that you overlay against the facts of the case to decide whether or not a particular policy violates the Establishment Clause within the First Amendment of the Constitution.

It is necessary to get "excessively legal" because there is much, much more to the rulings in the Kitzmiller case than just the decision to use the Lemon and Endorsement tests. BTW, "carefully crafted" or not, the infamous Lemon Test has fallen into extreme disfavor.

Jones continued,

To hear these critics tell it, we live in a world where judges make essentially ad hoc determinations. This is really a false world that they tend to propagate, where judges rule according to personal bias, particular whims or political philosophies, or in order to please political benefactors--or, worse perhaps, respond to the perceived public will at any given time.... And that gets into a still larger issue that I think is of somewhat crisis proportions, which I call a crisis in judicial independence. Many judges across the country feel exceedingly threatened by a public, a punditry, and a political establishment that tends to launch ad hominem attacks against individual judges when they disagree with them....

Almost none of Jones' critics expressly said that he should have ruled according to the wishes of his "political benefactors." Even Phyllis Schlafly's remark that he "stuck the knife in the backs of those who brought him to the dance" could be interpreted as meaning that she expected him to be fair and not that she expected him to rule in a certain way.

The current big controversy over the issue of judicial independence could not have come at a better time for Jones.

Also, "protesting too much" on the question of whether Jones was biased against the Dover defendants, the article about Jones' Bennington College speech pointed out again that he is a "Bush-appointed Republican Lutheran." His infamous plagiarized remarks about the Founders' "true religion" say a lot more about whether he was biased.

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