Solicitor General Supports Disability Rights Advocates In Sacramento
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 4, 2003
WASHINGTON, DC--Last week, the attorney for the White House urged the U.S. Supreme Court to reject a California case which claims that cities do not have to make sidewalks accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
"Laying and maintaining a network of walkways, or sidewalks, for pedestrians to move about is one of the first and most elementary functions of a municipality," wrote U.S. Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson on Wednesday.
"Providing and upkeeping a network of walkways for pedestrians to get around town is a quintessential, not to mention ages old, government service."
In the case of Barden v. Sacramento, the city of Sacramento argued that providing accessible sidewalks is not a "service" as defined by Title II of the ADA. The city lost its case, and last year the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decided against Sacramento, ruling that sidewalks must be usable for wheelchair users and other people with disabilities, and that keeping such walkways passable is the city's responsibility.
More than 250 cities have filed legal briefs in support of Sacramento's position. They claim that making city sidewalks safe and accessible to citizens with disabilities could be too costly for city budgets to bear.
Disability rights advocates point out that Sacramento has resisted making sidewalks accessible since the 1970s when it was required under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
"Disabled activists gain support in sidewalks case" (Fresno Bee)
"Justice Dept. urges high court not to take sidewalk case" (Ragged