The Washington Post

There’s no right to fairness


Regarding Paul Waldman’s March 6 op-ed, “Conservati­ves turn ‘fairness’ upside down”:

Three Supreme Court justices hearing the challenge to the Biden administra­tion’s student loan forgivenes­s program — Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Samuel A. Alito Jr. — interrupte­d oral arguments to essentiall­y ask: Is the program fair? Others who had paid off their loans didn’t get this break. Their “fairness” questions suggested another question they didn’t plan to ask: Does the court decide cases on political grounds?

The term “fairness” doesn’t appear anywhere in the Constituti­on. No textualist or disciple of original intent can take comfort there. The three justices use the term quite sparingly. Fairness never passed their lips when deciding whether a state could compel a 12-year-old girl to carry her pregnancy to term. Nor was fairness a component of the court’s decision not to stay the execution of Donald Dillbeck, born mentally impaired from fetal alcohol syndrome, despite a prior decision of the court holding it unconstitu­tional to execute someone with a mental disability. I doubt we will ever see the word “fairness” as a governing principle in any opinion of the court.

Robert T. Hall, Sterling

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