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John E. Jones III

President, Dickinson College

Jones retired as chief judge of the U.S. Middle District Court of Pennsylvania. He was appointed to the federal bench by President George W. Bush and unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate on July 30, 2002.

Jones has presided over a number of high-profile cases. In 2003, Jones struck down portions of Shippensburg University’s speech code on the basis that it violated the First Amendment’s free speech guarantee. In that same year, Jones ruled in a decision later affirmed by the United States Supreme Court, that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s statute assessing milk producers in order to fund advertising, including the Milk Mustache/got milk® campaign, did not infringe the free speech rights of the producers.

In 2005, Jones presided over the landmark case of Kitzmiller v. Dover School District, after which he held that it was unconstitutional to teach intelligent design within a public school science curriculum. In 2006, he ruled that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s ballot access procedures for minor political parties did not violate the Constitution. In 2014, Jones resolved the matter of Whitewood v. Wolf by striking down as unconstitutional Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Before becoming a federal judge, Jones was a lawyer in private practice in his hometown of Pottsville, Pa.

In November 1994, then Pennsylvania Governor-elect Tom Ridge named Jones as a co-chair of his transition team. In May 1995, Ridge nominated Jones to serve as chairman of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

Jones has received numerous accolades during his career. He received the Outstanding Alumni Award from the Dickinson School of Law, as well as an honorary doctorate in law and public policy from Dickinson College, where he was recognized as one of the 25 most influential graduates in the college’s history. In 2009, the college’s faculty voted to induct Jones into its Phi Beta Kappa chapter.

In 2006, Jones was named by Time magazine as one of its Time 100 most influential people in the world. He also received a Rave Award for Policy from Wired magazine and was the recipient of the first John Marshall Judicial Independence Award, given by the Pennsylvania Bar Association. In 2009, he was the recipient of the Geological Society of America’s President’s Medal, and in the same year he was inducted into the George Washington Spirit Society.

In 2013, Chief Justice John Roberts appointed Jones to the Committee on Judicial Security, a standing committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States, and in 2018 Roberts appointed Jones to the Committee on Space and Facilities.


  • –present
    President, Dickinson College