Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Insight from Judge Jones

Red State Rabble put me onto an excellent article in the Philadelphia Inquirer about Judge John Jones, who presided over the Kitzmiller vs Dover case in which he found teaching Intelligent Design as an alternative to the Theory of Evolution to be unconstitutional. There’s a certain set of the public who think that judges should make whatever ruling is most popular with the masses. To quote the judge...
If a poll shows a majority of Americans think we should teach creationism in schools, we should just go with the flow?
And the simple answer to that question is, of course, no, as the judge actually says earlier in the article...
It's a bit of a civics lesson, but it's a point that needs to be made: that judges don't act according to bias or political agenda.
I think the real lesson that certain segments of the public need to learn is a particular decision is not necessarily right just because it’s popular.

It’s not a judge’s job to please any political constituency; a judge’s job is to apply the law fairly to each case as it’s presented in the courtroom. I think the founders of this country understood the need for an independent judiciary; that’s why the Constitution requires federal judges to be appointed instead of elected.

I ask you: who is more likely to protect the rights of a minority, a politician who needs to please his electorate in order to keep his position or an appointed judge who only answers to the law itself (as interpreted by a higher judicial authority, when needed)?

That’s why we need an independent judiciary. That’s why appointed judges aren’t accountable to the person who appoints them. The fact that Judge Jones was appointed by a Conservative Christian Republican President (George W. Bush) does not mean that he must or should make rulings to please Conservative Christian Republicans: that would be unacceptable “judicial activism”. When it comes to how he makes his judicial decisions, Judge Jones doesn’t owe George Bush anything.

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