More Quotes From the Dover Smackdown

Some more quotations from the Dover trial decision (part 1 is here):

The real money quote is in judge Jones’s conclusion, p. 136:

The proper application of both the endorsement and Lemon tests to the facts of this case makes it abundantly clear that the Board’s ID Policy violates the Establishment Clause. In making this determination, we have addressed the seminal question of whether ID is science. We have concluded that it is not, and moreover that ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents.

Both Defendants and many of the leading proponents of ID make a bedrock assumption which is utterly false. Their presupposition is that evolutionary theory is antithetical to a belief in the existence of a supreme being and to religion in general. Repeatedly in this trial, Plaintiffs’ scientific experts testified that the theory of evolution represents good science, is overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community, and that it in no way conflicts with, nor does it deny, the existence of a divine creator.

To be sure, Darwin’s theory of evolution is imperfect. However, the fact that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific propositions.

The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the Board who voted for the ID Policy. It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy.

With that said, we do not question that many of the leading advocates of ID have bona fide and deeply held beliefs which drive their scholarly endeavors. Nor do we controvert that ID should continue to be studied, debated, and discussed. As stated, our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach ID as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom.

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.

p. 97:

Additionally, Nilsen complained to Jeff Brown that each Board President had a new set of priorities and Bonsell’s priority was that of creationism. […] It is notable, and in fact incredible that Bonsell disclaimed any interest in creationism during his testimony, despite the admission by his counsel in Defendants’ opening statement that Bonsell had such an interest. […] Simply put, Bonsell repeatedly failed to testify in a truthful manner about this and other subjects. Finally, Bonsell not only wanted prayer in schools and creationism taught in science class, he also wanted to inject religion into the social studies curriculum

p. 102:

After Barrie Callahan asked whether the Board would approve the purchase of the 2002 edition of the textbook entitled Biology, Buckingham told Callahan that the book was “laced with Darwinism” and spoke in favor of purchasing a textbook that included a balance of creationism and evolution. With surprising candor considering his otherwise largely inconsistent and non-credible testimony, Buckingham did admit that he made this statement.

pp, 104-105: There’s a persistent meme in certain wingnut circles that separation of church and state is a myth, as illustrated here. Nowhere does judge Jones correct this misapprehension. He does, however, use it extensively in his decision. I just wonder whether Buckingham et al. are smart enough to learn anything from this.

Fourth, Bonsell and Wenrich said they agreed with Buckingham that creationism should be taught to balance evolution. Fifth, Buckingham made several outwardly religious statements, which include the following remarks. “Nowhere in the Constitution does it call for a separation of church and state.” He explained that this country was founded on Christianity. Buckingham concedes that he said “I challenge you (the audience) to trace your roots to the monkey you came from.” He said that while growing up, his generation read from the Bible and prayed during school. He further said “liberals in black robes” were “taking away the rights of Christians” and he said words to the effect of “2,000 years ago someone died on a cross. Can’t someone take a stand for him?”

If I were the judge, I wouldn’t appreciate the “liberals in black robes” crack, either.

p. 105:

Finally, although Buckingham, Bonsell, and other defense witnesses denied the reports in the news media and contradicted the great weight of the evidence about what transpired at the June 2004 Board meetings, the record reflects that these witnesses either testified inconsistently, or lied outright under oath on several occasions, and are accordingly not credible on these points.

pp. 107-108: Buckingham blackmails the teachers:

In the midst of this panoply, there arose the astonishing story of an evolution mural that was taken from a classroom and destroyed in 2002 by Larry Reeser, the head of buildings and grounds for the DASD. At the June 2004 meeting, Spahr asked Buckingham where he had received a picture of the evolution mural that had been torn down and incinerated. Jen Miller testified that Buckingham responded: “I gleefully watched it burn.” […] Buckingham disliked the mural because he thought it advocated the theory of evolution, particularly common ancestry. […] Burning the evolutionary mural apparently was insufficient for Buckingham, however. Instead, he demanded that the teachers agree that there would never again be a mural depicting evolution in any of the classrooms and in exchange, Buckingham would agree to support the purchase of the biology textbook in need by the students.

(italics by Jones)

p. 113: Baksa knew that ID is creationism, and he’s also a perjurer:

Baksa testified that during this time period he researched Pandas and ID, which included directing his secretary to go to the webpage for the Institute for Creation Research. […] The afore-referenced webpage states that Pandas “contains interpretations of classic evidences in harmony with the creation model” and he testified on cross-examination that he was aware of such information when he researched Pandas. […] The fact that Baksa contradicted this testimony on re-direct and stated that he had never read the webpage has an unfortunate and negative impact on his credibility in this case.

pp. 114-115: In case anyone still thought the whole thing was a sincere attempt to get an alternate point of view taught in school, consider that Buckingham raised the money to buy Pandas, then tried (ineptly) to launder the money, then conveniently forgot to mention any of this:

The testimony at trial stunningly revealed that Buckingham and Bonsell tried to hide the source of the donations because it showed, at the very least, the extraordinary measures taken to ensure that students received a creationist alternative to Darwin’s theory of evolution. To illustrate, we note that at January 3, 2005 depositions taken pursuant to an order of this Court so Plaintiffs could decide whether to seek a temporary restraining order, upon repeated questioning by Plaintiffs’ counsel on this point, neither Buckingham nor Bonsell provided any information about Buckingham’s involvement in the donation or about a collection he took at his church. [emphasis by Jones] […] Buckingham actually made a plea for donations to purchase Pandas at his church, the Harmony Grove Community Church, on a Sunday before services and a total of $850 was collected as a result. […] As proof of such donation amount, Plaintiffs introduced into evidence a check in the amount of $850 indorsed to Donald Bonsell, Alan Bonsell’s father, drawn on Buckingham’s account jointly held with his wife, with the notation “Of Pandas and People” appearing on the check. […] Alan Bonsell gave the money to his father who purchased the books. […] When Spahr received the shipment of books and began to unpack them, she discovered a catalogue from the company that sold the books listing Pandas under “Creation Science.” […]

When we were moved to question Bonsell regarding this sequence of events at trial, he testified that his father served as the conduit for the funds from Buckingham’s church because: “He agreed to â??“ he said that he would take it, I guess, off the table or whatever, because of seeing what was going on, and with Mrs. Callahan complaining at the Board meetings not using funds or whatever.” […]

As we will discuss in more detail below, the inescapable truth is that both Bonsell and Buckingham lied at their January 3, 2005 depositions about their knowledge of the source of the donation for Pandas, which likely contributed to Plaintiffs’ election not to seek a temporary restraining order at that time based upon a conflicting and incomplete factual record. This mendacity was a clear and deliberate attempt to hide the source of the donations by the Board President and the Chair of the Curriculum Committee to further ensure that Dover students received a creationist alternative to Darwin’s theory of evolution. We are accordingly presented with further compelling evidence that Bonsell and Buckingham sought to conceal the blatantly religious purpose behind the ID Policy.

pp. 121-122: Several of the board members who voted to introduce ID into the curriculum didn’t even know what it is:

Furthermore, Board members somewhat candidly conceded that they lacked sufficient background in science to evaluate ID, and several of them testified with equal frankness that they failed to understand the substance of the curriculum change adopted on October 18, 2004.

In fact, one unfortunate theme in this case is the striking ignorance concerning the concept of ID amongst Board members. Conspicuously, Board members who voted for the curriculum change testified at trial that they had utterly no grasp of ID. To illustrate, consider that Geesey testified she did not understand the substance of the curriculum change, yet she voted for it. […] Moreover, as she indicated on multiple occasions, in voting for the curriculum change, Geesy deferred completely to Bonsell and Buckingham. […] Second, Buckingham, Chair of the Curriculum Committee at the time, admitted that he had no basis to know whether ID amounted to good science as of the time of his first deposition, which was two and a half months after the ID Policy was approved, yet he voted for the curriculum change. […] Third, Cleaver voted for the curriculum change despite the teachers’ objections, based upon assurances from Bonsell. […] Cleaver admittedly knew nothing about ID, including the words comprising the phrase, as she consistently referred to ID as “intelligence design” throughout her testimony. In addition, Cleaver was bereft of any understanding of Pandas except that Spahr had said it was not a good science book which should not be used in high school. […] In addition, Superintendent Nilsen’s entire understanding of ID was that “evolution has a design.”

Despite this collective failure to understand the concept of ID, which six Board members nonetheless felt was appropriate to add to ninth grade biology class to improve science education, the Board never heard from any person or organization with scientific expertise about the curriculum change, save for consistent but unwelcome advices from the District’s science teachers who uniformly opposed the change.

p. 131: Once things got serious, the board tried to pretend the whole thing had never happened:

Finally, although Defendants have unceasingly attempted in vain to distance themselves from their own actions and statements, which culminated in repetitious, untruthful testimony, such a strategy constitutes additional strong evidence of improper purpose under the first prong of the Lemon test.

p. 132: Judge Jones feels insulted by lying bastards:

Defendants’ previously referenced flagrant and insulting falsehoods to the Court provide sufficient and compelling evidence for us to deduce that any allegedly secular purposes that have been offered in support of the ID Policy are equally insincere.

Good but not great quotes:

p. 94:

Superintendent Nilsen’s contemporaneous notes reveal that Bonsell identified “creationism” as his number one issue and “school prayer” as his number two issue.

p. 96:

Although Baksa claims he does not recall Bonsell identifying “creationism” as the subject with which he wanted to share equal time with evolution, nor that Bonsell mentioned “creationism” at any time up until April 1, 2003, we do not find his testimony on this point to be credible.

p. 98: Creationist misconceptions 101:

Bonsell’s problem with the teaching of the origin of life, by which Bonsell meant how species change into other species, aspects of the theory of evolution also known as macroevolution and speciation.

pp. 98-99:

Bonsell left the meeting with the understanding that the “origins of life” is not taught, which pleased him because the concept of common ancestry offends his personal religious belief that God created man and other species in the forms they now exist and that the earth is only thousands of years old.

p. 100: Although the Discovery Institute would like to distance itself from this case, let’s not forget that they contributed to the situation in Dover:

The Discovery Institute forwarded Buckingham a DVD, videotape, and book which he provided to Nilsen to give the science teachers. […] Late in the 2003-04 school year, Baksa arranged for the science teachers to watch a video from the Discovery Institute entitled “Icons of Evolution” and at a subsequent point, two lawyers from the Discovery Institute made a legal presentation to the Board in executive session.

p. 103: I hope he knows better now:

Seventh, Buckingham testified that he had previously said the separation of church and state is a myth and not something that he supports.

p. 103:

Buckingham also said: “It is inexcusable to have a book that says man descended from apes with nothing to counterbalance it.” […] Finally, after the meeting, Buckingham stated: “This country wasn’t founded on Muslim beliefs or evolution. This country was founded on Christianity and our students should be taught as such.

p. 104:

Buckingham’s wife, Charlotte, gave a speech that exceeded the normal time protocols during the public comment section in which she explained that “evolution teaches nothing but lies,” quoted from Genesis, asked “how can we allow anything else to be taught in our schools,” recited gospel verses telling people to become born again Christians, and stated that evolution violated the teachings of the Bible.

p. 107: IDists, at least the ones who do understand about separation of church and state, have to pretend that they’re not creationists. But it’s not easy with the rank and file blowing their cover left and right:

Interestingly and notably, the example provided under the Progressive Creation (Old Earth Creation) is that of the “Intelligent Design Movement, Phillip Johnson, Michael Behe.”

Accordingly, as accurately submitted by Plaintiffs, we find that the Board Curriculum Committee knew as early as June 2004 that ID was widely considered by numerous observers to be a form of creationism.

p. 110: Buckingham’s blackmail:

Subsequently, at the August 2, 2004 meeting, Buckingham opposed the purchase of Biology, which was recommended by the faculty and administration, unless the Board also approved the purchase of Pandas as a companion text.

p. 110:

At trial, Buckingham testified that at the meeting he specifically said “if he didn’t get his book, the district would not get the biology book.”

pp. 127-128:

Subsequently, on January 6, 2005, the teachers sent a memo to the Board requesting that they be released from any obligation to read the statement. […] The memo provides, in relevant part, as follows:


I believe that if I as the classroom teacher read the required statement, my students will inevitably (and understandably) believe that Intelligent Design is a valid scientific theory, perhaps on par with the theory of evolution. That is not true. To refer the students to â??˜Of Pandas and People’ as if it is a scientific resource breaches my ethical obligation to provide them with scientific knowledge that is supported by recognized scientific proof or theory.

pp. 130-131:

Although as noted Defendants have consistently asserted that the ID Policy was enacted for the secular purposes of improving science education and encouraging students to exercise critical thinking skills, the Board took none of the steps that school officials would take if these stated goals had truly been their objective. The Board consulted no scientific materials. The Board contacted no scientists or scientific organizations. The Board failed to consider the views of the District’s science teachers. The Board relied solely on legal advice from two organizations with demonstrably religious, cultural, and legal missions, the Discovery Institute and the TMLC. Moreover, Defendants’ asserted secular purpose of improving science education is belied by the fact that most if not all of the Board members who voted in favor of the biology curriculum change conceded that they still do not know, nor have they ever known, precisely what ID is. To assert a secular purpose against this backdrop is ludicrous.

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