John E. Jones III ’77, P’11 will discuss judicial decision-making in a presentation titled “Blindfolds Off: How Judges Decide” on Tuesday, Dec. 2, at 7 p.m. in the Stern Center, Great Room, 208 West Louther Street. It is free and open to the public. As part of the One College One Community initiative, the event also will be live-streamed so that alumni and parents can watch and participate in an online discussion.
Jones, the U.S. District Judge for the Middle District of Pennsylvania who recently presided over the Whitewood v. Wolf case and ruled that the Commonwealth’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, will discuss the nature of judging and the role that judges play in American political, social, cultural and economic life. Gary Gilden, interim dean and professor of law at the Penn State University Dickinson School of Law, and Harry Pohlman, professor of political science at Dickinson College, will facilitate the discussion.
Jones, an alumnus of Dickinson College and the Dickinson School of Law, began his legal career as a law clerk to the President Judge of Schuylkill County, the Honorable Guy A. Bowe, in 1980. He worked in private practice until 1994 when Pennsylvania Governor-elect Tom Ridge named him as a co-chair of his transition team. Subsequently, in May 1995, Governor Ridge nominated Jones to serve as chairman of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.
Since being appointed to the U.S. District Court in 2002 by President George W. Bush, Jones has presided over several high-profile cases. In addition to the 2014 Whitewood v. Wolf ruling, Jones presided over the 2005 landmark case Kitzmiller v. Dover School District, after which he held that it was unconstitutional to teach intelligent design within a public-school science curriculum. Jones and the Kitzmiller case were featured in the two-hour Nova special "Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial," televised nationally by PBS. He also has appeared as a guest on national television programs such as the Today show, PBS NewsHour and C-SPAN's America & The Courts.
In 2005, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania appointed Jones to the Pennsylvania Commission on Judicial Independence, and in 2013, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts appointed him to the Committee on Judicial Security, a standing committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States.
The event is sponsored by the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues and Student Senate and co-sponsored by the Churchill Fund. It also is part of the Clarke Forum’s "Leadership in an Age of Uncertainty" series. For more information, call 717-245-1875.
Published December 1, 2014