John E. Jones III bigraphy, stories - American judge

John E. Jones III : biography

June 13, 1955 -

John Edward Jones III (born June 13, 1955) is an American lawyer and jurist from the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. A Republican, Jones was appointed by President George W. Bush as federal judge on the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania in February 2002 and was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate on July 30, 2002. He is best known for his presiding role in the landmark Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District case, in which the teaching of intelligent design in public school science classes was ruled to be unconstitutional.

Awards, positions, and honors

  • Member of the Raven's Claw Honorary Society at Dickinson College
  • Former board member and president-elect of the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association (resigned when appointed to federal bench).
  • Distinguished Alumnus Award, Dickinson School of Law
  • Welsh Citizen of the Year Award, St. David's Society of Schuylkill and Carbon Counties.
  • Former assistant Scoutmaster and other positions in the Boy Scouts of America
  • 2006, included in Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People of the Year., Time
  • 2007, honorary doctorate, Muhlenberg College.
  • Board of Trustees, Dickinson College
  • Board of Directors, Federal Judges Association
  • Board of Directors, Justice at Stake Campaign
  • 2008, American Humanist Association Humanist Religious Liberty Award.
  • 2009, President's Medal, Geological Society of America.

Political career

In 1992, Jones unsuccessfully ran as a Republican for the U.S. House of Representatives for the Sixth Congressional District seat and then was co-chair of the transition team for Governor-elect Tom Ridge.

Jones was the chairman of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board from 1995 to 2002, a period marked by some controversy. He was part of a failed attempt to privatize state stores, and he banned Bad Frog Beer after determining that its label (a frog giving the finger) was in bad taste. He briefly considered running for Governor in 2001.

Judicial career

Jones was appointed to fill a vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania by President George W. Bush in February 2002. He was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate on July 30 and was commissioned on August 2. Before the Kitzmiller decision, he was rumored to be among the top choices for nomination to the US Supreme Court.

Kitzmiller v. Dover

Jones was assigned to the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District bench trial, the first direct challenge brought in the federal courts against a school district that mandated the teaching of intelligent design. He was praised by Tom Ridge, former Pennsylvania Governor and former head of the Department of Homeland Security, who said that "I can't imagine a better judge presiding over such an emotionally charged issue... he has an inquisitive mind, a penetrating intellect and an incredible sense of humor.", Amy Worden, Philadelphia Inquirer October 16, 2005.

On December 20, 2005, Jones ruled that the mandate was unconstitutional in a 139-page decision. via official court site accessed December 21, 2005

After the ruling was handed down, some pundits immediately attacked it, notably Bill O'Reilly on Fox News accusing Jones of being a fascist and an activist judge. Casey Luskin and Jonathan Witt of the Discovery Institute, and activist Phyllis Schlafly, have leveled similar charges. Phyllis Schlafly Townhall.com January 2, 2006 Jones also received death threats as a result of which he and his family were given around-the-clock federal protection.

In a speech to the Anti-Defamation League on February 10, 2006 he responded to critics who claimed that he had "stabbed the evangelicals who got him onto the federal bench right in the back" by noting that his duty was to the Constitution and not to special interest groups.

In a November 2006 talk given at Bennington College, Jones again rejected the "activist judge" criticisms and explained the judiciary role and how judges decide cases:

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