Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Open Letter Concerning Court's Decision in Dover

In light of Judge John E. Jones III's ruling against intelligent design in the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial, I released this letter sharing my views on the court's decision.

Decision in Dover: Why the Courts got it Wrong

Dear Friends,

After six long weeks in court and after a month and a half of waiting, the now-famous “Dover trial” is finally over. Just a few minutes past 11:00 am EST, Judge John E. Jones III ruled against the Dover Area School District and against intelligent design in general in the landmark trial Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District et al. Due to a recent loss in the November elections, Dover Area School District will not appeal this case.

In his decision, Jones writes,

The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the Board who voted for the ID Policy. It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy.

In that statement, Jones, despite being a federal judge, has demonstrated his ignorance of American law and past precedents. He rules that the intelligent design statement of the Dover Area School District violates the United States Constitution. Yet, he ruled based upon the purpose for adopting the ID policy at Dover. Jones did not rule based upon the merits of intelligent design as a science nor upon the validity of the statement being read in Dover’s science classes. Rather, he ruled based upon the purpose for adopting the statement.

Jones goes even further by making a statement concerning intelligent design in general by adding,

Our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach ID as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom.

The “intelligent design statement” read in biology classes in the Dover Area School District informed students that evolution was not a fact and that intelligent design was another theory different from evolution. The statement did not advocate one theory over another, but instead asked students to “keep an open mind.”

Advocates of intelligent design, according to Jones, “have bona fide and deeply held beliefs which drive their scholarly endeavors.” Never mind if their “scholarly endeavors” might actually be correct, what this court worries about is “deeply held beliefs” and who has permission to hold them.

Jones’ ruling on Kitzmiller v. Dover says nothing about the validity or status of intelligent design as a science. It says a great deal about Jones’ personal philosophies and his lack of understanding concerning both design theory and American law.

As a student who has not only been involved but greatly affected by evolution/design controversy, I am very disappointed in Jones’ ruling. He complained about board members lying as to their motivation, yet he, in issuing this ruling, has allowed for educators to continually lie to students concerning the so-called validity of evolution. Jones has succeeded in doing nothing less than paving the way for academic tyranny and dishonesty and I am most disappointed.

I close with one more quote from Jones himself:

Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist Court. Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity of the Board's decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has not been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.

With all due respect to Judge Jones, I do not disagree with his court on the grounds that he is an “activist judge.” I disagree with his court on the grounds that he has demonstrated poorly to be any judge at all, activist or not. He cannot decipher between the facts and one’s motivations. He demonstrates a poor understanding of the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution.

While Jones writes that the “Plaintiffs' scientific experts testified that the theory of evolution represents good science,” he makes no mention as to the science behind evolution or the lack of science behind design. Despite six weeks of testimony, I doubt that Judge Jones could explain any of the science that was presented in his courthouse.

Finally, Judge Jones is right in saying that “the students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better….” They deserve an honest education and an honest ruling. They didn’t receive the latter and they are now being denied the former.

My heart grieves for the students who have now lost their academic freedom. Make no mistake, this ruling will not hinder or slow the intelligent design movement, but spur it on full speed.


Samuel S. Chen