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Citing Recent ADA Rulings, Supreme Court Sends Nebraska Case Back For Review
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 20, 2006

WASHINGTON, DC--The U.S. Supreme Court this week sent a Nebraska disability discrimination lawsuit back to a lower court to be reviewed in light of recent decisions in two other ADA cases.

Nebraska Advocacy Services filed the suit, United States v. Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, in 2003 on behalf of people with developmental disabilities who claimed that the state put them at risk of being institutionalized by failing to provide in-home services through Medicaid home and community-based waivers. The advocates said the state was violating their rights under Title II of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, which guarantees accessibility in public services.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit sided with Nebraska, ruling that the state could not be sued under the ADA.

But in 2004, the high court ruled in the case of State of Tennessee v. Lane that states must follow Title II when it comes to the courts, or stand to face lawsuits from individuals. In that case, wheelchair user George Lane had tried to sue Tennessee because it did not force county courthouses to be accessible to him.

And in January of this year, in the case of Goodman & United States v. Georgia, the high court reiterated that states are not protected from having to pay financial damages for violating Title II, if in doing so they violate the Fourteenth and Eighth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantee equal protection to all citizens and that prisoners be free from "cruel and unusual punishment". In that case, inmate Tony Goodman sued Georgia for confining him to a cell that would not fit his wheelchair, and for keeping him from participating in the same recreational, educational, and other opportunities as inmates without disabilities.

In a brief order submitted Monday, the Supreme Court said that the appeals court was wrong to rule the way it did in the Nebraska case, and sent the suit back to be reviewed in light of the Lane and Goodman cases.

"Under certain circumstances, the denial of community-based services which results in the unnecessary institutionalization of persons with disabilities is a violation of their fundamental liberty interest protected by U. S. Constitution," Shirley Ann Mora James, a lawyer for Nebraska Advocacy Services, told the Sioux City Journal.

"U.S. high court orders new hearing in disabilities case" (Sioux City Journal)
"United States v. Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services" (U. S. Department of Justice)
"High Court Upholds Access To State Courts: State of Tennessee v. Lane et al" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)
"Supreme Court Rules Prisoner Can Sue State Over Alleged ADA Violations" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)


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