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Judge Robert Hanson’s Same Sex Marriage Decision Rips “Experts”

Judge Robert Hanson’s decision totally rips the “expert witnesses” that the Defense (in this case representing the Polk County recorder, and by extension, the state of Iowa) tried to bring in. (I had to hand type all this, because of the format of the .pdf, so bare (hehe) with me.) Bolding is all mine:

“Ms. Somerville intends to testify “about the ways in which redefining marriage to include same-sex couples would undermine these roles of the institution of marriage, in turn undermining marriage’s ability and society’s capacity to protect the inherently procreative relationship and the children who result from it, and related matters” Id at 1-2. She also intends to testify regarding “the impact that redefining marriage to include same-sex couples would have on the affiliative rights of children to relationships with their biological parents, and related matters.” Id at 2. The Defendants have also submitted the statements and deposition of Paul Nathanson, Ph.D. Dr. Nathanson is a senior researcher in the Department of Religious Studies at McGill University and possesses a Ph.D. in Religious Studies. Nathanson indicates that he possesses expertise in the areas of: “the relation between religion and secularity; ethics (new reproductive technologies; children’s rights); popular culture (family and marriage); and gender (especially, maleness/masculinity).”

Ex. C. Defendant’s Appendix. He indicates that he will testify “regarding the significance of marriage as a social institution and the state’s role in maintaining it, and related matters.” Id. The Defendant also submits the testimony of Dr. Katherine Young, a professor of Religious Studies at McGill University. Dr. Young also possesses a Ph.D. in Religious Studies. Dr. Young seeks to testify on “what universally constitutes marriage and why.” Ex. H, Defendant’s Appendix.

The Court believes that the proposed expert testimony of Ms. Somerville, Dr. Nathanson and Dr. Young would be inadmissible at trial. Though the testimony of these individuals is potentially relevant to assist the trier of fact in determining what the State may have considered to be rational bases for the enactment of Iowa Code 595.1, the Court does not believe that the expected testimony of these individuals is scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge that will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue as required by the Iowa Rules of Evidence and Leaf. Leaf, 590 N.W.2d at 525 (citing Iowa R. Evid. 5.702). Additionally, the Court concludes that these individuals are not qualified to testify as experts regarding the issues in this matter. Id. Though they may have expertise in certain areas, such expertise is insufficient to qualify Ms. Somerville, Dr. Young and Dr. Nathanson to answer the particular questions that they are asked. Tappe, 477 N.W.2d at 402. Though these experts desire to make statements regarding gender, results of same-sex marriage on children and the universal definition of marriage, they do not appear to possess expertise in relevant fields such as sociology, child development, psychology or psychiatry. Ms. Somerville specifically eschews empirical research and methods of logical reasoning in favor of “moral intuition.” She has no training in empirical research and admits having no knowledge of existing social science research relevant to this case. She concedes that her views do no reflect the mainstream views of other ethicists. Dr. Young claims that she pulls together factors from many academic disciplines, including sociological, economic, political and religious factors, though she does not profess expertise in these areas. Nathanson indicates that his methodology involves observing “what people say about religion.” The views espoused by these individuals appear to be largely personal and not based on observation supported by scientific methodology or based on empirical research in any sense. They do not meet the criteria for the admission of expert testimony under the Iowa Supreme Court’s test in Leaf and certainly fail the more stringent test articulated by the United States Supreme Court in Daubert.”

Damn.

The long and the short of it – The religious opinions of a few nutters does not qualify them as experts qualified to testify about marriage, sociology, .. or basically anything related to this case or the law.

Best part of the decision I’ve read so far.

Filed under: Equality, Fundies, Politics, Religion, Romance, Sex

10 Responses

  1. […] Judge Robert Hanson’s Same Sex Marriage Decision Rips “Experts” […]

  2. blipey says:

    The scary thing is that there are people who actually think those 3 are experts in sociology, child development, etc. The single largest failing of the fundie is that he doesn’t know what an opinion is or what weight to give it.

  3. I think that is completely fabutastic. Yeehaw! Personally I’ve never really understood why anyone would turn to a theologian as an expert on anything. “I have a Ph.D. in one particular sky fairy,” a theologian could say. While his colleague says, “Well, I have a degree in comparative sky fairy studies, so, neener-neener.” And then they get into a fight about who can out-goofy one another. Then they excommunicate each another. It’s all a goofy joy!

    HJ

  4. don’t you want to see the looks on their faces as thats being read?

  5. JanieBelle says:

    blipey,

    That really is scary. The idea that expertise in any subject can be obtained without actually y’know… studying that subject… is absurd in the extreme, and terrifying. Seems an awful lot like doing brain surgery from a 1950 toaster advertisement.

    Kisses

    Bing McGhandi,

    Gives a whole new meaning to “Royal Rumble”, doesn’t it?

    “My god has thunder.”
    “My god has lightning.”
    “My god can kick your god’s ass!”
    “Oh yeah?”
    “Eat dirt!”

    The picture is funny in my head, just laugh.

    Welcome Bing.

    CJ,

    I believe I’d pay good money…

    Kisses

  6. JanieBelle says:

    Oh, and P.S.

    The really best part of the decision is that he quotes Antonin Scalia… twice.

    Ouch, y’know the fundies are blowing blood vessels over that.

  7. What? You’re not an expert in something just cuz you think really strongly about it? I don’t know. Isn’t that special expert rights or something? Don’t we live in democracy where you can put people down because there are more of you than of them?

  8. […] Judge Robert Hanson’s Same Sex Marriage Decision Rips “Experts” […]

  9. JanieBelle says:

    Hi Glenn,

    Sometimes it does indeed seem like there are a lot of folks that think that way.

    Scary.

    Thanks for coming by!

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