When the Jones decision was first published I read every word. I was very impressed. Here was a man who seemed to have learned a lot of sophisticated science in a very short period of time. His grasp of complexities like the evolution of bacteria flagella and blood clotting was impressive. His understanding of the meaning of science rivaled that of many advisors on the ACLU side. Frankly, I was jealous, and humbled.
Everyone was praising the Jones decision. For example, Timothy Sandefur on Panda's Thumb wrote,
Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District is a major victory for science and a major blow to those who have tried to sneak religion into the classroom by disguising in scientific garb. But it’s more than that. It is a brilliant, insightful, profound decision that reaches to the bottom of ID and finds it empty.These comments, and others, seemed to confirm that Jones had written this decision all by himself and deserved full credit for his brilliant analysis.
Judge John Jones, a George W. Bush appointee, deserves the praise and thanks of every defender of rigorous, meaningful scientific education. He has taken the time to really understand not just the legal issues, but the scientific ones as well. This decision proves he is a credit to the federal judiciary.
As it turns out, this isn't true and I feel deceived.
The Discovery Institute is reporting that the "Masterful" Federal Ruling on Intelligent Design Was Copied from ACLU and Timothy Sandefur acknowledges that this is true [Weekend at Behe's].
Apparently Judge Jones copied the most "scientific" parts of his decision from the ACLU ‘Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law’ that was submitted a month before the decision was published. I'm told that this is standard practice. Judges often rely heavily on written submissions from the side they support. I'm told that it's common for judges to copy from those submissions.
That may be true—I have no reason to doubt it—but it does make a difference to me. The legal significance of the decision doesn't change but my opinion of Judge Jones does. He is no longer the brilliant man who was able to grasp complex scientific concepts in the blink of an eye. He's able to discern who's right and who's wrong, but that's all.
Now, the question is, who really wrote the ACLU "Finding of Fact?" Did they know from the beginning that the Jones decision had incorporated a lot of their material? If so, why did they leave us with the impression that Judge Jones "has taken the time to really understand not just the legal issues, but the scientific ones as well?"