Fairness is in the eye of the beholder

April 21, 2010

I was taught Constitutional Law by William Van Alstyne, one of the great constitutional scholars of the last 50 years. No one would ever have considered him anything but a political liberal, but he was bright enough to see the complexity of constitutional issues and was even-handed in his analysis of arguments opposed to his own.

His was different in every way from the arrogant, muddled thinking of "scholars" like Garrett Epps. Mr. Epps' article ("The champion of fairness," April 21) simplifies cases and holdings to the point of distortion. His comment about Justice Antonin Scalia's remarks is both condescending and wrong. "Fairness" is not a judicially manageable standard. Fairness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. And, I suppose, woe to the student who doesn't behold the issues as clearly and simply as Mr. Epps or who won't mimic whatever his idea of "fairness" might be in a particular case. I think the constitutional law students at the University of Baltimore are being shortchanged.

Thomas F. McDonough, Towson

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