Re: Judge Jones sided with the Discovery Institute and ruled against the Dove...

From: David Opderbeck <>
Date: Wed Dec 28 2005 - 22:44:13 EST

Wayne, you're not getting my point. There are many ways in which this judge
could have done a "respectable job" with this case that would have stood up
on appeal. Most of them --- 95% of them -- didn't require a detailed
written opinion on the nature of "science." If you understand how trial
courts work, and you have any experience appearing before trial courts,
there's no way you can interpret this opinion as merely crossing i's and
dotting t's in ancitipation of appeal. The judge was angry, and I think
part of this opinion was venting that anger. He also, I think, quite
clearly wanted to make his mark on this political debate -- and he
succeeded, in spades.

*Moreover, the issue was whether ID is science.*
No, that was not the issue in terms of the governing law. The issue was
whether this particular school board violated the establishment clause
through the particular policy it adopted in its local school district. That
issue could, and in my view should, have been decided under the
establishment clause jurisprudence without the foray into science and ID

*Suggesting we scientists all think or behave as one unified political cell*
I didn't suggest that. You have to be pretty naive, though, to believe that
the Dover case wasn't at least in part politically motivated. As a lawyer,
I wish the case could have simply been about the law applied to the
particular dispute. As a scholar, I wish the discussion of ID and what
constitutes "science" could be held at an intellectual level among
scientists, historians and philosphers of science. What we've gotten
instead -- most unfortunately in my view -- is litigation brought by an
organization with a political agenda against folks with a different
political agenda that has produced a politicized judicial opinion.

What I'm shocked at, honestly, is that scientists such as yourself seem so
comfortable with this decision. I understand that you think the result and
opinion were correct, so I suppose it seems to some people that the right
side "won" this time. What about the next time and the next and the next?
Is nasty, brutish litigation between warring interest groups how we want to
debate important and interesting questions about science, faith and truth in
our society? Why would anyone committed to the scientific enterprise be
happy about that?

On 12/28/05, Dawsonzhu@aol.c wrote:

> David Opderbeck wrote:
> Only in relatively unusual cases in which the court wants to establish
> precedenor weigh in on an important legal or policy question does the court
> craft a lengthy opinion. Usually you get a memorandum order or a less
> polished opinion. Have you handled cases before the courts in the Third
> Circuit? Where are you getting your infomation about the common practice of
> those courts?
> Fine that the "modus operandi" is this way, but why should it be called
> "bad"
> that a polished opinion was produced? Judge Jones was surely aware that
> his decision would be challenged if any "t" was not crossed or any "i" not
> dotted. It seems bizarre and peculiar that anyone should complain about
> someone doing a thorough job in a respectable profession.
> Moreover, the issues was whether ID is science. That has to be a matter
> that is settled from the very beginning. Suggesting that we scientists
> all
> behave and think as one unified political cell is being about as equitable
> as
> those who suggest that _all_ lawyers as dishonest, corrupt, or easily
> corruptible with worldly rewards. Whereas I expect some people
> really fit these respective molds, it is unfair to the rest who are honest
> in
> both camps and increases the level of distrust.
> by Grace alone we proceed,
> Wayne
Received on Wed Dec 28 22:45:29 2005

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