Walter E. Williams

The relationship between Supreme Court justices and the U.S. Constitution should be identical to that of referees and football rules. The status of a person appearing before the court should have absolutely nothing to do with the rendering of decisions. That's why Lady Justice, often appearing on court buildings, is shown wearing a blindfold. It is to indicate that justice should be meted out impartially, regardless of identity, power or weakness. Also, as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "Men should know the rules by which the game is played. Doubt as to the value of some of those rules is no sufficient reason why they should not be followed by the courts." The legislative branch makes the rules, not judges.

Interventionists often make their case for bending the rules based on the unfairness of outcomes such as differences in income, education and wealth. After all, how can the game of life possibly be fair when some people's yearly income totals in the hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars, while many others scarcely earn twenty or thirty thousand dollars? Some people find that argument persuasive but it's nonsense. Income distribution is an outcome and fairness cannot be determined by outcomes. It's the same with football. The Steelers winning six Super Bowl titles and Arizona winning none is an outcome and cannot be used to determine football fairness. Fairness in either case must be settled by process questions such as: Were the rules unbiased and evenly applied? If so, any outcome is just and actions based on empathy would make it unjust.


Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
 
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