Legal Groups Ask For Advocates To Act On ADA Case
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
January 24, 2003
WASHINGTON, DC--The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law and the National Association of Protection and Advocacy Systems (NAPAS) are urging grassroots disability rights groups to act on an upcoming Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) case now before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The case involves Michael Hason, who was denied a medical license by the Medical Board of California because he had a history of depression.
Hason tried to sue the board, which is a state agency, under Title II of the ADA which bans discrimination by state and local governments. The board argued that the 11th Amendment to the Constitution does not allow state agencies to be sued for money damages.
Hason's case is important because the Supreme Court would decide whether Congress had the authority to allow individuals to sue states for damages when it passed into law the ADA in 1990. A negative ruling might suggest that Congress did not have the power to enact many of the core protections in Title II, according to a statement from the Bazelon Center.
"The stakes are high," said Ira Burnim, legal director at the Bazelon Center, of Hason's case which is expected to be heard by the court in March and ruled on in June. "The court is going to be considering the very constitutionality of the ADA."
NAPAS and the Bazelon Center are calling on activists to ask their state lawmakers to support Hason's position. The national non-profit groups are also coordinating "friend of the court" briefs to be filed on Dr. Hason's behalf.
The state of Minnesota plans to file a brief in support of the ADA, but other states may join a brief in support of the states' rights position.
"We're counting on advocates to let their states know how important the ADA's protections are to people with disabilities," explained Sharon Masling, NAPAS director of legal services. "Briefs from the states could have a big impact on the court's decision."