Judge Jones on judicial independence

The Anti-Defamation League has put up the transcript of a fantastic speech given by Judge Jones back in February. Jones gives his perspective on what it was like to be the judge in the Kitzmiller case, and then uses it as a platform to talk about the larger issues of judicial independence, legal precendent, and separation of powers. It’s quite a read – I don’t think the creationists have yet realized how much they marginalize themselves with kneejerk attacks on a class act like Jones.

It’s always risky business to divine what the founding fathers might think about current developments, but I’m certain, I’m entirely certain, that by deciding the Dover case the way that I did, I performed my duties as a district judge in exactly the way that the founding fathers had in mind when they created the Federal Judiciary in Article III of the Constitution.

In fact, I will submit to you that had I decided the Dover matter in a different way, I would have then engaged in just the kind of judicial activism which critics decry. That is, to have ruled in favor of the School Board in this case based on the facts that I had before me at the conclusion of the trial, I would have had to have overlooked precedents entirely and thus impressed upon the facts of the case my sense or the sense of the public concerning what the law should be, and not what it is.

This is ad hoc justice based upon either my preferences or biases or the perceived will of the majority. Taken to its extreme, it is anarchy at any level that to rule in such a fashion represents the true work of an activist judge. And so the real criticism of my decision, and this is one which I will readily accept, is that I did not render an activist decision.

See also the NCSE news story summarizing other recent news coverage on Jones.