Editor: I have been informed that The Sun wished to speak to me about a story concerning the absence of a bust of me in the Senate. Frankly, I do not want to discuss the matter. It seems to me that it should not require any initiative on my part.
If the American people feel that my bust should be placed with the others, they should so indicate and I will be glad to cooperate. However, there seems to be little interest in the matter.
You may remember that former Gov. Harry Hughes removed my portrait from the Maryland State House and put it in storage in the basement amid some publicity. So far as I know, it is still in the basement. There have been no protests that have come to my attention from either political party.
Due to the publicity surrounding my resignation, it is useless to remind anyone that none of the recitals of then Attorney General Elliot Richardson were proved and that the only conviction on my record is for the one count of income tax evasion. The impact of Watergate, in which I had no involvement whatsoever, made it impossible for me to receive a fair trial. There was a hunger to get rid of President Nixon, but not unless I was gone first.
Spiro T. Agnew. Rancho Mirage, Calif.
The writer was governor of Maryland from 1967 to 1969 and vice B president of the United States from 1969 until his resignation in B 1973.
Editor: I was very annoyed by letter writer William Hughes' suggestion that the British leave Ireland so as to "allow the Irish communities to forge their own concept of national identity, without any British colonial interference."
I have a suggestion. Put Mr. Hughes on a plane to Ireland and have him expound on his pompous statement to the citizens of Northern Ireland. The Northern Irish do prefer to be part of Great Britain rather than be annihilated in a bloodbath.
The British Army has tried for a very long time to protect the Northern Irish from atrocities perpetrated by the Irish Republican Army. As an Englishwoman whose paternal ancestors came from Southern Ireland, I would indeed love to see a resolution of the Irish question.
However, I dislike seeing the myth perpetuated that if only the interfering British government would remove itself from Irish affairs, all parties involved would amicably settle their differences.
Instead of his facile comparison of Britain's presence in Northern Ireland to the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq, Mr. Hughes would be better off contemplating the similarities between the IRA and Middle Eastern terrorist groups whose members clamor for the "freedom" to control their country's destiny, while they disintegrate the bodies of the innocent using explosives purchased with funds from sympathizers.
Editor: In his July 6 column, Theo Lippman Jr. argues that "Judges of lower federal courts, who do just settle cases, are required by law to be lawyers. But not Supreme Court justices. Citizens who have been trained in other but appropriate disciplines should sit on this court."
As a member of the bar whose lifelong hobby has been the study of jurisprudence -- which I define as the psychology of rights and duties -- I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Lippman. Just as lawyers are not usually allowed on juries, they should in my considered opinion be prevented from sitting on any political tribunal like the modern Supreme Court.
Laymen do not understand that you can graduate from a first-class law school and pass bar examinations handily enough without ever taking a course in "constitutional law" -- a subject properly studied as a student of political science rather than law.
A basic problem is that the English word "law" is ambiguous -- referring to two very different subjects -- one the product of jurisprudence and the other of legislation. The abstract study of legislation is "nomology," a subject that few lawyers have even heard of.
Worldwide, the study of jurisprudence is based on the Corpus Juris Civilis, a restatement of the Roman jus gentium -- the common law of the Hellenistic world. This has nothing to do with politics, hence nothing much to do with the U.S. Constitution.
For judges and other lawyers as such to meddle in politics has proved disastrous to the science of jurisprudence. Whether a surgeon is a political liberal or conservative is irrelevant to the patient. Whether a judge is a political liberal or conservative should be equally irrelevant to a litigant. Nothing in law school suggests otherwise.
Willis Case Rowe.
The Pride in Finland
Editor: I feel compelled to share my pride of Baltimore with you.
When I recently arrived in Helsinki, Finland, my hosts informed me that the Pride -- our Pride of Baltimore -- was visiting.
To my amazement, the Pride's visit was common knowledge throughout the city of Helsinki and probably the whole country due to the huge amount of coverage in the press and on radio and television.
When we went to visit her, we found a line extending well up the dock. Coming back to hear the Pride's closing cannon shot at the end of her visit, the crew proudly informed us fellow Marylanders that 2,459 people had come to visit that day alone.
I want the people of Maryland to know that the boat looked great and the crew members were wonderful ambassadors.
In an era when we get so little for many of our dollars, I wanted to let you know that the Pride is producing a very big bang for our buck.
Baltimore. Editor: In response to the June 22 letter, "Ethiopia's Hope," it is crucial to see another point of view of the situation in the country.
The Eritrean people have been through too much, (and that is an understatement) to give up what they have fought for for 30 years. Eritrea's unity with Ethiopia is out of the question. Eritrea's separation from Ethiopia is better for the future of the nation.
I understand that the province of Eritrea is important to Ethiopia as a nation, mainly because Ethiopia would be a landlocked country if Eritrea is to be separated. But that should not be the reason to keep Eritrea in unity with Ethiopia.
Editor: This letter is written in response to Rich Palmer's letter to the editor in The Sun June 27.
On July 1, the MTA began issuing new photo identification reduced fare cards for seniors. For the convenience of our customers we will take the camera to senior centers and apartment buildings to provide on-site processing of the photo identification cards; a walk-in site will be open two days a week in our offices at 300 W. Lexington Street. The MTA feels that these cards will be more secure for our customers. Further information concerning this program can be obtained from our recertification office at 333-3360.
We apologize for any inconveniences that Mr. Palmer may have experienced during the transition.
Ronald J. Hartman.
The writer is the general manager for the Mass Transit Administration.
Equality of Opportunity
Editor: Within the next few weeks the Senate will be debating civil rights legislation as well as holding confirmation hearings this fall on Clarence Thomas, a black conservative nominated for associate justice of the Supreme Court. This, of course, brings up the question of quotas and affirmative action. The Bush administration states that a de facto quota bill will be vetoed. It should be!
The problem is, how can it be determined if employers are complying with a civil rights or affirmative action law other than by looking at the racial makeup of their employees? All things being equal, it would seem that employment would reflect the racial-ethnic patterns of the overall community. Therefore, if a community were 30 percent black it could be expected that firm X would have approximately 30 percent black employees, more or less, and firm Y would be roughly the same. That is, of course, all things being equal.
Unfortunately, all things are not equal. And if the overall black population succeeded at the same rate as whites something would be radically wrong.
Generally the white population is better educated than the black population. Of those 25 years and older, about 37 percent of blacks have not completed high school as compared with 23 percent of whites. Almost twice the percentage of whites have completed four years of college as compared to blacks, 20 percent to 11 percent.
Much of this lagging behind in education is probably due to the basic family structure. Nine and a half percent of female white women are heads of households as compared to 30 percent of black women. And ten times as many black women as compared to white women heading a family have never been married.
The social impact of this is not only in education. Almost half the states' prison population is black, even though blacks make up but 12 percent of the population as a whole. Over 30 percent of blacks live below the poverty level as compared with 11 percent of whites. Is this condition of blacks due to bigotry or to lack of educational-social achievement? Probably both.
If blacks in the labor force achieved at the same rate as whites it would belie all available statistical evidence. In the long run it would lead government to retreat from helping to cure the true problems faced by minorities -- crime, lack of quality education and resulting poverty.
Certainly, segments of the white population also experience the same problems as many blacks. They, too, have difficulty in obtaining well-paying jobs and in job advancement -- and for the same reason. They are poorly equipped to compete in the job market.
This is not to say that there is not racial prejudice in our society. All citizens should have equal opportunity and access to good jobs and advancement.
But employers should also be able to choose the best available labor force and to promote their most deserving employees, without regard to distortion of a quota system.
Any civil rights law that measures equality by equal achievement and not on equal opportunity would be wrong.
Alfred L. Peterson.