Did Judge Jones Plagiarize Scholar’s Book in Dickinson College Commencement Speech?

Robert L. Crowther, II

We have made clear that Judge Jones’ wholesale and uncritical copying from ACLU attorneys in the Kitzmiller v. Dover decision is not considered “plagiarism” in legal circles–even though such verbatim copying has been frowned upon by appellate courts. But what about the unattributed use of language from someone else’s book in a public speech? According to the posted text of his Commencement Address at Dickinson College, Judge Jones appears to have engaged in unattributed copying outside the courtroom as well. Compare the following passages and decide for yourself whether this new finding constitutes plagiarism.


Judge Jones’ Commencement Address at Dickinson College (2006):

“…our Founding Fathers… possessed a great confidence in an individual’s ability to understand the world and its most fundamental laws through the exercise of his or her reason… The Founders believed that true religion was not something handed down by a church or contained in a Bible, but was to be found through free, rational inquiry… this core set of beliefs led the Founders… to secure their idea of religious freedom by barring any alliance between church and state.” (http://www.dickinson.edu/commencement/2006/address.html)

Compare that to Frank Lambert’s, The Founding Fathers and the Place of Religion in America (Princeton University Press, 2003):

“The Founding Fathers… had great confidence in the individual’s ability to understand the world and its most fundamental laws through the exercise of his or her reason. To them, true religion was not something handed down by a church or contained in the Bible but rather was to be found through free rational inquiry…the framers sought to secure their idea of religious freedom by barring any alliance between church and state.”
(Frank Lambert, The Founding Fathers and the Place of Religion in
America, pg. 3 (2003). You can also find this material online at http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i7500.html)

Robert Crowther

Robert Crowther holds a BA in Journalism with an emphasis in public affairs and 20 years experience as a journalist, publisher, and brand marketing and media relations specialist. From 1994-2000 he was the Director of Public and Media Relations for Discovery Institute overseeing most aspects of communications for each of the Institute's major programs. In addition to handling public and media relations he managed the Institute's first three books to press, Justice Matters by Roberta Katz, Speaking of George Gilder edited by Frank Gregorsky, and The End of Money by Richard Rahn.

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