Why Kitzmiller is Not An “Activist” Decision

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Since the charge of "judicial activism" is, predictably, being sounded by those who differ from Judge Jones in Kitzmiller, I thought it worthwhile to explain a little about what this term means. As I'll explain, while there are cases where judges certainly engage in what can be called "activism," it is more often the case that the charge of "judicial activism" is basically meaningless, or, worse, refers to the very concept of "judicial review" itself. Opposition to the institution of judicial review---led, in the modern day, by Robert Bork and his followers---is, in the views of many lawyers (and I'm one of them), a very, very serious threat to the American Constitution. The liberty and security of the people is in vastly more danger from legislative activism: the fact that legislatures routinely ignore their constitutional limitations, ride roughshod over the rights of the minority, do virtually anything a legislative majority demands of them, and then scream holy hell when a judge has the temerity to enforce the Constitution's limits.

Click here to read the rest at Positive Liberty.

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Since Intelligent Design Creationism has been irremedially smacked-down, I think now is the time to discuss the history of ID in America. It turns out that the History of ID in America began in... Read More

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This may be a bit off-topic, but…here’s the real importance of Judge Jones.

Science is a system of understanding physical reality which seeks to convince the rational skeptic with evidence and logical inferences, and without reference to the untestable supernatural.

There is a resemblance between science and the law. Courts often evaluate evidence and appeal to skeptical, rational analysis.

Judge Jones is an elderly church-going Republican, but also a reasonable man. He had little prior bias toward or knowledge of either current evotionary theory or “ID”.

On this forum, we rarely see a neutral person. It’s mainly educated and committed scientists versus ID peddlers.

Often a visitor claims to be “neutral” or “objective”, but nearly always, they turn out to be creationists, trying to play a typical clumsy trick.

In Judge Jones, we see what happens when a truly neutral, reasonable, unbiased person is presented with both sides.

He or she concludes that science makes sense and creationism is a bunch of dishonest, ill-motivated hooey.

This may be a bit off-topic, but…here’s the real importance of Judge Jones.

Science is a system of understanding physical reality which seeks to convince the rational skeptic with evidence and logical inferences, and without reference to the untestable supernatural.

There is a resemblance between science and the law. Courts often evaluate evidence and appeal to skeptical, rational analysis.

Judge Jones is an elderly church-going Republican, but also a reasonable man. He had little prior bias toward or knowledge of either current evotionary theory or “ID”.

On this forum, we rarely see a neutral person. It’s mainly educated and committed scientists versus ID peddlers.

Often a visitor claims to be “neutral” or “objective”, but nearly always, they turn out to be creationists, trying to play a typical clumsy trick.

In Judge Jones, we see what happens when a truly neutral, reasonable, unbiased person is presented with both sides.

He or she concludes that science makes sense and creationism is a bunch of dishonest, ill-motivated hooey.

This may be a bit off-topic, but…here’s the real importance of Judge Jones.

Science is a system of understanding physical reality which seeks to convince the rational skeptic with evidence and logical inferences, and without reference to the untestable supernatural.

There is a resemblance between science and the law. Courts often evaluate evidence and appeal to skeptical, rational analysis.

Judge Jones is an elderly church-going Republican, but also a reasonable man. He had little prior bias toward or knowledge of either current evotionary theory or “ID”.

On this forum, we rarely see a neutral person. It’s mainly educated and committed scientists versus ID peddlers.

Often a visitor claims to be “neutral” or “objective”, but nearly always, they turn out to be creationists, trying to play a typical clumsy trick.

In Judge Jones, we see what happens when a truly neutral, reasonable, unbiased person is presented with both sides.

He or she concludes that science makes sense and creationism is a bunch of dishonest, ill-motivated hooey.

Timothy,

Thanks very much for the rational explanation of judicial review. It was a very succinct and informative post. Unfortunately, I think its strengths will be lost on most who cry “judicial activism” as their strengths don’t often include rationality or informative argument. Though, I suppose we could try to redifne “information” so that their rants may become informative some how.…

But, it does give us (me, at least) a point of reference to start the defence of Judge Jones’s decision.

I should think it would be easy to make it impossible to send a form from the “Post a Comment box” inadvertantly more than once.

Many posters seem to have trouble with this.

A suggestion.

Add this to the javascript code:

var submitted=0; function check_it() {

if(submitted) { alert(‘This server can be slow.\n ‘ + ‘Be patient. The server will likely respond in a few seconds.\n\n’ + ‘Thanks.’); return false; } submitted++; return true; } ######## Then add this to the submit tag : onClick=”return check_it();”

###

(It would be more reliable just to checksum each comment at the server and reject duplicates.)

harold wrote:

Science is a system of understanding physical reality which seeks to convince the rational skeptic with evidence and logical inferences, and without reference to the untestable supernatural.

Okay, using those mental tools would you say that this: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/serv[…]ceandHealth/

…will constitute evidence that there is at least one intelligently designed organism?

A bit OT but why is the judicial branch the only option these days? This was settled 150 yrs. ago. If the creation/ID faction were smart, they would unearth the best of the rhetoric from those times instead of this ID bullshit, most of it was a lot better. Another kind of ‘judicial activisim’ is now under way by the current FISA judges, and about time too!

Norman Doering -

Apologies to all for the double post and the needlessly harsh closing line before I begin.

Norman, I don’t entirely get your point, but…

1) No, not yet. Technically, this would be more of an “intelligently modified” organism, at any rate, something of an extreme case of a domesticated species. This work has nothing to do with “abiogenesis”, by the way. 2) If you are a creationist, this would seem to be the ultimate example of the adage that “whatever happens, creationists will always claim that everything ‘supports’ design”. Venter’s work gets overhyped (he makes sure it does), but here we have an example of mainstream science being successfully applied. There is no hint of a magical, unidentifiable “designer”, on the contrary, everyone involved is a clearly identifiable human being. Your comment (however it was intended) can serve to illustrate the faulty “heads I win, tails you lose” logic of creationists. Humans can’t “make new bacteria” - bacteria must have been designed magically. Humans can “make new bacteria” - proof that bacteria were intelligently designed.

This paradigm predicts nothing, explains nothing, can never be tested, can never be fruitfully debated with one who insists on it. It is the antithesis of science, in which ideas are critically and skeptically tested. It also leads to very bad theology and ethical behavior in many cases, as Judge Jones pointed out.

Norman Doering: Okay, using those mental tools would you say that this: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTG

…will constitute evidence that there is at least one intelligently designed organism?

Norman: that argument is a red herring.

First and foremost, in Venter’s case we have plentiful independent evidence of the designers, their motivations and mechanisms of action. Even when people have genuinely postulated, in the absence of direct independent evidence, that certain organisms may have been designed (e.g. the conspiracy theories about HIV or SARS virus being accidentally or purposefully released bioweapons), specific testable hypotheses about the designers, their motivations, and modes of action were made. They were tested against the available evidence (usually, the virus sequence and its phylogenetic position compared to other viral sequences, the virus first place and time of appearance with respect to the existence of the required technology, our knowledge of bona fide weaponized micro-organisms, etc), and rejected. No part of this scientific process applies to, or in fact is even allowed in principle, for ID as currently practiced (except RBH’s Multiple Designers Theory, which not surprisingly is rejected by ID advocates).

Second, even as a simple analogy your example breaks down, as I am sure you recognize that the fact that there are human-made artificial lakes doesn’t automatically mean that we must assume that every lake we observe was intelligently designed, unless we have an excruciatingly detailed step-by-step account of how it came to be by hydrogeologic forces.

The funny thing about that news item is that if IDers try to co-opt it as evidence for design they will be supporting one of the very things the fundies hate, that is support for repoductive medicine/biology/genetics.

Norman Doering Wrote:

Okay, using those mental tools would you say that this: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTG

…will constitute evidence that there is at least one intelligently designed organism?

A layman’s opinion:

Actually, I’d say it would provide strong evidence for the argument that life could have arisen by chance, should they be able to prove that an organism will become alive once it reaches a certain complexity, genetically speaking. Rather than proving the design theories, I’d say it would help poke even more holes in them. After all, if they can mix the chemicals, and build a life form, then there’s absolutely nothing but chance that would prevent nature from doing the same.

Speaking of Dover, Buckingham and Bonsell are now being investigated for perjury. Prosecutor seeks perjury evidence

Just a few days ago, I was at lunch with several people, including two co-workers (one current, one former) who typify the kind of white middle-class ignorance/arrogance that drives many cries of “judicial activism”. These guys subscribe to precisely the ideology presented in this article: that judicial review should be abolished, and misbehaving government can simply be voted out of office.

They cannot be reasoned with. And they both make 6-figure salaries. Nothing like a little comfort to insulate people from the outside world, leaving their minds free to dream up all kinds of crap.

Yeah, but - and here’s the line of thought that wakes me up in the middle of the night:

If you abolish judicial review, what’s to stop the legislature from removing your right to vote them out of office?

Just a quick comment to praise the ever-sharp eye-for-relevant-news items that Jason Spaceman has evolved!

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This page contains a single entry by Timothy Sandefur published on December 21, 2005 10:19 PM.

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