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Jocelyn Bowie
College of Arts and Sciences

Last modified: Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Judge to speak on judicial independence and 'intelligent design' case

Lecture is part of College of Arts and Sciences 'Themester'

Dec. 1, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III, best known for his landmark ruling that the teaching of intelligent design in public schools is unconstitutional, will speak this week at Indiana University.

Jones will speak at 4 p.m. Friday (Dec. 4) in Whittenberger Auditorium at the Indiana Memorial Union, 900 E. Seventh St. He will discuss judicial independence in the context of his service on the bench and his role in the intelligent design case, Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.

Jones image

Judge John Jones

The lecture, part of the College of Arts and Sciences' inaugural Themester, "Evolution, Diversity and Change," is free and open to the public. Also on Friday, Jones will be the guest on WFIU public radio's news and public affairs program "Noon Edition."

At stake in Kitzmiller v. Dover was a pro-intelligent design school board policy and the book Of Pandas and People, which used the term "intelligent design" to mean a specific field of inquiry.

The case arose after the Dover Area School District board announced in November 2004 that science teachers would be required to read a statement referring to "gaps" in Darwin's theory of evolution and referring students to Of Pandas and People for an alternative view.

Eleven parents, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, filed suit. After a six-week trial, Jones issued a 139-page decision on Dec. 20, 2005, that said the school board policy was an unconstitutional violation of the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. He wrote that intelligent design was "nothing less than the progeny of creationism" and should not be taught in public schools.

The victory for pro-evolution forces was not just legal: the pro-intelligent design Dover school board was replaced by the voters on Nov. 8, 2005.

Jones is a judge for the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. He was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush and was confirmed in 2002.

Note: The location of this lecture has been changed from the Moot Court Room of the Maurer School of Law to Whittenberger Auditorium.