Talk:Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District

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This article requires a complete overhaul. Despite the length, it contains numerous untrue statements and opinions masquerading as facts.

- Judge Jones was not an activist judge and he never admitted to such a thing. In his ruling he specifically denied making an activist decision and his so-called admission was simply the straw man arguments and misleading assertions of a disgruntled Casey Luskin.

- The Discovery Institute may claim that Jones "copied verbatim" from the ACLU but that does not make it true. Jones relied heavy upon the ACLU for his findings of fact (which did not comprise a majority of his decision), but this is common throughout many court rulings.

- The reference given to allegedly prove Jones made an activist decision is only one part of a three part series printed in the Montana Law Review. A rebuttal to Luskin's mostly groundless assertions is a part of the series. This was not mentioned at all in the references. It should be mentioned that the Montana Law Review has not taken a stance on the Kitzmiller decision.

This article needs to be seriously revised or deleted. In its current form, it should not be a part of a "trustworthy encyclopedia". --Jimmy 22:47, 14 March 2008 (EDT)

Proposed Change

The current article is unsatisfactory because it is almost completely devoid of references and presents very little in the way of factual information. I propose the following change. If there is not any objection, I'll press on.

Tammy Kitzmiller, et al. v. Dover Area School District, et al., Case No. 04cv2688, was a challenge brought in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania against the Dover Area School District by a group of eleven parents whose children were subject to the requirement that a statement in support of intelligent design (ID) be read aloud by any science class instructor prior the presentation of any material about the theory of evolution. [1]
Plaintiffs were a group of parents that brought the case on behave of their children that attended the Dover Area School District. Dover resident Tammy Kitzmiller learned of the school boards revised policy during November 2004 and filed suit with the other parents on December 14, 2004. They were represented by American Civil Liberties Union, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and Pepper Hamilton LLP. Pepper Hamilton LLP accepted the lead role of presenting the plaintiffs case. [2] [3]
Defendants were the Dover Area School Board who presided over schools in the Dover area that taught approximately 3700 students. About 1000 students attended Dover High School, the school where the ID policy was placed in effect. The Defendants retained the services of the Thomas More Law Center on a pro bono basis. [4] [5]
Based on the "Consideration of the Applicability of the Endorsement and Lemon Tests to Assess the Constitutionality of the ID Policy", the court determined that both the "endorsement test and the Lemon Test should be employed in the case to analysis the constitutionality of the ID policy under the Establishment Clause." The court determined this course of action based on the opinions of Justice Sandra Day O'Conner and previous court cases involving the establishment clause, the Lemon Test, and other cases involving the teaching of creationism and evolution in public schools. [6]
On December 20, 2005, Judge John E. Jones III rendered his verdict and ruled the Dover ID policy violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The court summarized in stating, "the disclaimer singles out the theory of evolution for special treatment, misrepresents its status in the scientific community, causes students to doubt its validity without scientific justification, presents students with a religious alternative masquerading as a scientific theory, directs them to consult a creationist text as though it were a science resource, and instructs students to forego scientific inquiry in the public school classroom and instead to seek out religious instruction elsewhere." The defendants were permanently enjoined from maintaining the ID policy in any school within the Dover Area School District. [7]
Immediately after the ruling in favor of the plaintiffs, Judge Jones, a conservative Republican appointed by President Bush, was accused of judicial activism. [8] Despite the accusations that he admitted to making an activist ruling, he actually preempted his critics by stating; "Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist Court. Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity of the Board’s decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources." [9] [10]
The term cdesign proponentsists was spawned into the American culture due to this case. [11]
Thanks --Jimmy 17:36, 25 May 2008 (EDT)
  • Reject. It's still an obvious, barely changed copy from Wikipedia, as I already showed on your talk page. Additionally, multiple uses of the National Center for Science Education as a primary source is simply laughable. You might as well use the KKK as a source for articles about how racism is okay. Jinxmchue 02:22, 26 May 2008 (EDT)
Mr. Jinxmchue: Based on my past experience with your editing and opinions, I will simply discount your initial observation and not take your rejection as the final word. Another word on your skills as an editor, you may take this as an observation. Every paragraph has a reference. The primary references for the first six paragraphs are to the PDF transcript of the official ruling of Judge Jones which is posted at the NCSE. If fact, the NSCE has many documents from the trial, all posted unedited and without editorial comment. So you see, the only primary resource I used from the NCSE concerned their research into creationism and this was the You Tube interview that was posted at the end of the article. Even a cursory reading of the article and references will show just about the entire article is written using the December 20, 2005 ruling. All other references were added to list the law firms involved with the trial. Using the KKK as a means to criticize my references is juvenile, but if you insist on using such ad hominem comments, I can't stop you.
This being said, I feel that this version is not as good as my previous effort. If anyone would like to add constructive editing or suggestions, that would be nice. --Jimmy 11:14, 26 May 2008 (EDT)
Jimmy, your version above does not even explain clearly, up front, what the disclaimer said. It has mistakes (behave?) and makes an unjustified reference to the judge as a "conservative". I agree with Jinxmchue that your proposal is unacceptable.--Aschlafly 11:33, 26 May 2008 (EDT)
So if I correct the spelling error, get rid of 'conservative', and add the 'disclaimer' then my article can be posted? --Jimmy 11:57, 26 May 2008 (EDT)
I would say also find some better, less viciously, viscerally biased sources and, using said sources, write up the article from scratch. Jinxmchue 12:50, 26 May 2008 (EDT)
I'll keep the 'vicious' and 'viscerally' biased source from the Evolution News link because you seem to like it as it is the only reference in the original. Since my re-write was written up from scratch from the court ruling, do I have your 'approval'? --Jimmy 13:32, 26 May 2008 (EDT)

I recently compared the NCSE point of view with that of Wikipedia on ID. Its virtually identical. Writers at Wikipedia assume that NCSE is correct, instead of treating them as one party to a dispute.

If you want to describe liberal POV here, be sure to label it properly. Say, for example, that the NCSE supported X because of Y. Now that would be helpful! (But saying "X is true" and giving NCSE as a reference is not helpful; don't do it any more, or we'll have to drop you from the project. Not just you, Jimmy, but anyone who writes like that.) --Ed Poor Talk 22:52, 26 May 2008 (EDT)

Why all the concern about the NCSE? Their POV is only used at the end of my article to explain cdesign proponentsists. I didn't even write that little sentence but it is stuck there because my edit was reverted. All I did was provide the reference to the people that discovered the sloppy editing of the ID text book. The other NCSE references are for the PDF file of the court ruling. Is there any reason why this link[1] is more valid than this one [2]? Come on, they both use the exact same PDF file of the court ruling. --Jimmy 01:33, 27 May 2008 (EDT)
From a quick glance, I can't see how it's "still an obvious, barely changed copy from Wikipedia". Could Jimxmchue point out which parts of the Wikipedia article it is a copy of?
Ignoring that, and apart from other comments above (including the disclaimer, spelling, etc.), I think the rewrite looks good, with one exception that I'll discuss below. I don't have a problem with including NSCE references that are merely transcripts of the court case, but on the other hand, if they are available elsewhere (i.e. a court site) as you indicate, why not link to the originals instead of copies?
The exception is the bit about the judge's alleged activism. The current article says that the judge has admitted to activism. The proposed version implies that accusations of activism are wrong, according to the judge himself. Both claims/implications are incorrect, as far as I can see. That is, the judge did not admit to activism, but the link which supposedly supports that does appear to make a case for him being activist. To clarify, the link supporting the current claim that he admitted to activism actually says that he "made striking admissions that demonstrate the activist nature of the Kitzmiller ruling". That is, he did not admit to activism, but he did admit to certain things that indicate activism on is part. The rewrite should reflect the claims that he was activist (but without claiming that he admitted as much) and why. His rebuttal of that can be mentioned, but I note that he explains little if anything about why it's not activism, with merely a simple denial then deflection onto the other parties.
Philip J. Rayment 07:52, 27 May 2008 (EDT)
Philip: Thanks for your comment. I used the NCSE link because they also have what looks like every transcript of the proceedings available on-line. Even if you don't like their politics or science, they are a handy reference for all the Kitzmiller documents. That being said, I don't mind if the other reference is used. In defense of Judge Jones, his denial of his alleged activism was a part of his verdict which came before the Discovery Institutes charge of activism; therefore he didn't address any specific claim leveled against him. I feel that any further discussion of any alleged activism on his part should be reserved for another article that is linked to this one. --Jimmy 11:05, 27 May 2008 (EDT)


Philip: The quote box for the disclaimer looks good, thanks. --Jimmy 15:53, 1 June 2008 (EDT)

Questions concerning Aschlafly's edit

Mr. Schlafly: in my opinion your edit has introduced an unreferenced opinion and removed important facts that contributed to the credibility of this article. Every major edit I made to this article was discussed beforehand and I even made every change you required, yet here you are deleting important facts that give a certain measure of comprehension to the Kitzmiller v Dover lawsuit. I'd like to know why the following changes were made.

  • Why was the sentence concerning Tammy Kitzmiller and the ten other parents that were a part of the lawsuit removed?
Everyone knows that the driving force behind this type of lawsuit is the anti-religion organizations. The parents probably did not pay even a dime for the lawsuit.--Aschlafly 20:22, 1 June 2008 (EDT)
You are of course ignoring that the case is called Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District. Who is Kitzmiller? This I think is fundamental to the article. DanielB 20:55, 1 June 2008 (EDT)
  • Why was the $2 million sum mentioned prior to the verdict and why was it not mentioned that the payment of fees was reduced to $1 million?
What makes you think the fees were reduced? The award should be up-front and not hidden.--Aschlafly 20:22, 1 June 2008 (EDT)
Cronological order is important when telling the story so in any sensible prose it should go verdict, award, reduction on appeal. DanielB 20:55, 1 June 2008 (EDT)
You were informed of this fact before on the Evolution article talk page. Even this anti-ACLU organization says so. [3] I think the award fee should be posted after the judges ruling, this is clearly not hiding information. It's funny that you are the one accusing me hiding information while at the same time removing pertinent facts. --Jimmy 21:11, 1 June 2008 (EDT)
  • Why was mention of the lead law firm, Pepper Hamilton LLP, removed?
It's obscure and meaningless. The names of law firms are not relevant to a summary of a decision. Do you know or care who the law firms were in key decisions?--Aschlafly 20:22, 1 June 2008 (EDT)
No you removed it because you are trying to make this look like it is all the ACLU doing and not that of the parents and the law firm they hired. DanielB 20:55, 1 June 2008 (EDT)
Just as obscure and meaningless as the ACLU and the AU? What about the Thomas Moore Law center? You seem to have a thing for the lawsuits the ACLU is involved in. Your gripes and complaints about them are all over the ACLU article. --Jimmy 21:11, 1 June 2008 (EDT)
  • Why was the legal reasoning the judge employed in his verdict removed? Shouldn't his reasoning involving the establishment clause, Lemon Test, other opinions about creationism, and the opinions of other jurists be included?
The reasoning used is not as important as the outcome.--Aschlafly 20:22, 1 June 2008 (EDT)
Yes it is. You are the lawyer you should know this. DanielB 20:55, 1 June 2008 (EDT)
The fact that Judge Jones based his verdict on sound judicial precedent and legal reasoning is not important? In my opinion that sounds like a bizarre statement for lawyer to make. --Jimmy 21:11, 1 June 2008 (EDT)
  • The idea that the parents sued to "censor any mention of intelligent design in public school" is without merit. If I am wrong I'm sure you could provide the reference that is required by the commandments.
That's what the suit was about, and the outcome was to censor any mention of intelligent design.--Aschlafly 20:22, 1 June 2008 (EDT)
Still uncited opinon. DanielB 20:55, 1 June 2008 (EDT)

Your removal of "liberal fluff" was nothing more that the removal of factual information. It has been said the facts have a liberal bias, even if that is so; it shouldn't be a barrier for adding pertinent information. --Jimmy 19:35, 1 June 2008 (EDT)

Your "facts" are "liberal fluff" that obscure the result. You seem unclear about the result yourself!--Aschlafly 20:22, 1 June 2008 (EDT)
You might want to give references to support your "facts." And why should we mention the judge's reasoning if we know he is biased? WilliamH 19:36, 1 June 2008 (EDT)
The facts I wrote about were clearly presented in the judge's decision, obviously not 'liberal fluff'. The fact you removed them shows that you are clearly trying to hide something. --Jimmy 21:11, 1 June 2008 (EDT)
WilliamH you are either you are a parodist or like Andy imagine everything in the world can be divided into liberal/conservative views. Somethings are testable facts and some important ones have been removed to the detriment of this article. Jimmy wrote a much better article then the one there now. DanielB 20:55, 1 June 2008 (EDT)
Do you always accuse people of "imagining" things when they point out that things need to be referenced properly or that one shouldn't report statements by biased sources? WilliamH 21:01, 1 June 2008 (EDT)
Well for a start the plaintiffs in the case were parents, the current article implies if not states that the plaintiffs were the ACLU and AUSCS. The case was not to censor any mention of ID, but instead to stop a statement in favour of it being read out. A sourced statement from the site has been removed which explained why the Lemon Test and endorsement test should be applied. Can you tell me which of these are biased or not referenced correctly? StatsMsn 21:04, 1 June 2008 (EDT)
WilliamH: You're joking, right? Did you even bother to look at the references I posted? Every fact and opinion I wrote or quoted was supported with a reference. Of course the judge had biases, he based his ruling on "…the "Consideration of the Applicability of the Endorsement and Lemon Tests to Assess the Constitutionality of the ID Policy", the court determined that both the "endorsement test and the Lemon Test should be employed in the case to analyze the constitutionality of the ID policy under the Establishment Clause." The court determined this course of action based on the opinions of Justice Sandra Day O'Conner and previous court cases involving the establishment clause, the Lemon Test, and other cases involving the teaching of creationism and evolution in public schools." In other words he wrote his decision based on the rule of law and previous precedent. If you actually read his decision you would know this. If there is a good reason to delete this information from the article I am all ears. If you have any other information that the judge was biased for any other reason, please include it in the article, with a valid reference of course. Conservapedia is supposed to be a resource for teachers and students, yet credible information was deleted on the basis of "liberal fluff". --Jimmy 21:08, 1 June 2008 (EDT)
Judge Jones has made various comments outside the courtrooms that put in question his ability to determine in an unbiased way the outcome of this case, some of those quotes can be read here: and :::::::
Now, if you do have references for your other assertions, then good. In my first comment above I simply suggested you linked to the references in question which I was unaware could be find in the body of the article. WilliamH 22:20, 1 June 2008 (EDT)
I'm not sure what other assertions you are talking about. As far as I know, everything I wrote or quoted was referenced.
Ms. Schlafly appears to be uninformed about why Judge Jones used the term "breathtaking inanity". He said that in reference to the obvious lies told by some of the defendants. The rest of her comments are in the same vein. Read the depositions and the trial transcripts and you will see the obvious differences between the statements taken under oath. and :::::::
These two links are just whining on the part of the Discovery Institute. Many of their statements are in glaring contradiction to the Wedge document and the testimony given by their expert witnesses such as Behe.
The WND article is a joke that shouldn't be taken seriously by anyone that has a rudimentary understanding of how judges write their opinions. It is not un-common for judges to use the findings of fact of the winning party. Does anyone seriously consider that the ACLU is actually complaining about Judge Jones using (plagiarizing) their research? I think they are impressed that the judge would do so.
Hmmmmm. I think Judges Jones's preemptive strike against his critics was spot on. He correctly predicted the losing side would vent, and they did.
Typical right-wing rant from a person that doesn't like a judicial decision and then decides to label it judicial activism. No need to provide any evidence, just blow a gasket and then think they are providing meaningful commentary. --Jimmy 22:51, 1 June 2008 (EDT)
Jimmy, in addition to William's comments, you should learn the outcome of the case before you write about it and certainly before you criticize others about it. The fee award was $2 million. I'd guess you picked up the $1 million from Wikipedia's biased entry. It's baseless. You also seem unclear about how the ACLU sought, and obtained, censorship of reference to intelligent design in the classroom. Is that what you applaud?--Aschlafly 22:35, 1 June 2008 (EDT)
Mr. Schlafly: Please cut me some slack, I obviously knew what the outcome was; I quoted the judge's decision. I know the fee award was $2 million, I never contested that fact. I did happen to notice the $1 million dollar number quoted at Wikipedia's factually biased Kitzmiller article. I also noticed the reference they used; do you have a problem with it? [4] Did you have a problem with the reference I quoted earlier? [5] What about this one? [6] And here. [7] It took me only 2 minutes to find all of these references. And yes, I do applaud the judge's decision to remove an idea with virtually no scientific support. Heck, even Prof. Behe can't be bothered to do any 'peer-reviewed' research for ID; he had better things to do according to his sworn testimony during the trial. --Jimmy 23:07, 1 June 2008 (EDT)

Responding to a number of points (before edit conflict with latest post(s):

  • The parents/defendants should definitely be mentioned, as should the involvement of groups like the ACLU. I have no trouble believing that it was initiated by one or more parents, but then I wouldn't put it past the ACLU to seek out a parent willing to bring the action with their support. I don't know exactly what the situation was, but clearly both are relevant factors and both should be mentioned.
  • Regarding the parents suing to prevent any mention of ID: This is a reasonable conclusion to draw, given that ID was not to be taught, but merely mentioned, and it was this mention that they objected to. There may, however, be a better way of bringing up this point.
  • Regarding the other points mentioned above that Andy deleted, I think they should be there, but what I think should happen is that the article is restructured a bit so that the more relevant information (i.e. the stuff that both sides agree should be there) goes higher up in the article and the less relevant stuff (e.g. the name of the law firm) goes lower down or in footnotes. I agree that generally things like this should be chronological, but that doesn't prevent having a summary which mentions, say, the verdict before you get into the (chronological) detail of the case.

If nobody else reinstates some of that stuff first, I’ll do it when I get a chance, although I don’t know when that will be. Philip J. Rayment 23:28, 1 June 2008 (EDT)

Thanks Philip. I am prohibited from making any changes to anything that Mr. Schlafly has written because a certain administrator has forbidden me to do so and has threaten to block me if I ever do it again. I only make additions or minor editing, not deletions; this is one of the reasons some of the articles I have edited look a bit bizarre. --Jimmy 23:38, 1 June 2008 (EDT)
I'll help take up the flag on this one and make some of those changes.--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 01:23, 2 June 2008 (EDT)
Folks, this is an encyclopedia. That means the essential material goes first where the reader can understand it right away. This is not a book, where story telling from beginning to end may be appreciated.
This entry should explain to the reader up-front what this case was about, what drove it, and who won what. It doesn't do that now and the list of plaintiffs who had no financial interest in the case obscures what really happened.--Aschlafly 08:16, 2 June 2008 (EDT)

Notice of changes

In furtherance of my comments above, the liberal fluff and errors are going to be removed from this entry this morning. Case summaries do not dwell on the identity of law firms and plaintiffs who had no financial interest in the action. See Engel v. Vitale and Stone v. Graham if you still don't believe me. Also, the summary insists on repeating a key error about the award despite my repeated corrections of that. I'll wait a bit if someone else would like to correct this first, but if not then I'll fix it yet again.--Aschlafly 08:34, 2 June 2008 (EDT)

Mr. Schlafly: If you had all these concerns about the article when I first posted it on the talk page, then why didn't you say so? It sure would have made things a lot easier. If I'd known you were going to butcher this article and then add unreferenced and unsupported factoids that comply with your reality, I wouldn't have wasted my time. Maybe I should just spend my time on the NASA article.
Who says "Case summaries do not dwell on the identity of law firms and plaintiffs who had no financial interest in the action." Is that a rule that you just created? Why reference Conservapedia articles to demonstrate your point? The Engel v Vitale article starts out with a blatant lie, anybody that knows anything about this case knows it did not deal with banning all prayer from public school classrooms. It contains irrelevant opinions and facts that do not contribute to the article and is missing information that should belong. This is also one of the bizarre articles I was talking about. I added the second line of the article that quoted the judge's ruling and it is completely at odds with the opening line. The Stone v Graham article is, quite frankly, completely worthless as a reference. It is unreferenced and contains such a small amount of information that it is rendered almost useless as an encyclopedic entry. I brought this to your attention months ago when you were 'editing' the changes I made to the 'Public Schools' article.
What exactly is the key error of the award fee? I'd like you to point it out with full factual references please. --Jimmy 11:00, 2 June 2008 (EDT)
Jimmy, I don't have time to explain the corrections of all your mistakes and take out obviously inappropriate information, like names of law firms and plaintiffs who lacked any financial interest in the case. You seem to be getting biased and/or false information from Wikipedia and importing it here. Please stop that practice.
The fee award against the defendants was $2 million. Try harder if you can't figure that out and insist on changing that. Please.--Aschlafly 11:18, 2 June 2008 (EDT)
The award was $2m, but ultimately my understanding is that ACLU and the other organization agreed to accept $1m "to lessen the burden on the district." Probably both facts should be stated. Murray 11:34, 2 June 2008 (EDT)

Type of article

What type of article is this meant to be?

Andy mentions above that "Case summaries do not dwell on the identity of law firms and plaintiffs who had no financial interest in the action". Well, perhaps not, but then encyclopedias don't usually have "case summaries" either. Now I've got no problem with Conservapedia having case summaries—it's one of our distinctives (along with essays, debates, family-friendliness, etc.). But this particular case was more than a case that was legally significant for lawyers, but an important point in the history of ID. So should this article be merely a "case summary", written from a legal point of view, or more of an encyclopedia article, written from a general public point of view? Or, should there be two separate articles? One being the legalese case summary, and the other being the more general article?

I think at the moment it is trying to be both. A legalese case summary would mention the actual plaintiffs, and not say much about other parties, such as the ACLU. A more general encyclopedia article would probably emphasise broader aspects, such as the role of the ACLU. The title currently suggests the legalese case summary. So should we try and incorporate both into this article, or make it two separate articles?

Philip J. Rayment 10:48, 2 June 2008 (EDT)

Philip, this case is a 2-million dollar verdict that completely censored any mention of ID. That needs to come across clearly early in the entry. The money awarded obviously increases the motivation for this ACLU-type case.
A reader should be able, based on the first 100 or so words, to understand the significance of the outcome of the case. I don't mind fluff later in the entry, but it should not obscure the essence that needs to be on the first page.--Aschlafly 11:23, 2 June 2008 (EDT)