While the 25 plaintiffs in Whitewood v. Wolf led the way for countless other Pennsylvania couples, another figurehead in this fight was the man behind the bench, whose decision made marriage equality law in Pennsylvania.
U.S. District Judge John E. Jones 3d of the Middle District of Pennsylvania was appointed by former President George W. Bush, taking the bench in February 2002.
Jones, 58, is a graduate of Dickinson School of Law and also received his undergraduate degree from the Carlisle-based college.
A Republican, Jones was, prior to the Whitewood case, most known for his role presiding in the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.
In 2004, Dover Area School District changed its biology curriculum to include lessons on intelligent design as an alternative to teaching evolution theory, prompting a group of parents to file suit, arguing that the policy was unconstitutional.
In his 2005 decision, Jones agreed with the parents, citing the separation of church and state and equating the district’s action with “breathtaking inanity.”
Jones is originally from Pottsville and worked for Doblin & Cori before becoming a partner in his firm; he went on to start his own practice, John Jones & Associates, and worked as a trial attorney for a number of years.
He ran for the U.S. House of Representatives for the Sixth District in 1992 but was unsuccessful.
Throughout his career, Jones has garnered a number of awards, including the 2009 President’s Medal from the Geological Society of America, and the 2008 American Humanist Association’s Religious Liberty Award, and was listed as Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of the Year in 2006 for his Kitzmiller decision.
— Angela Thomas