WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, the lead House sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, issued the following statement regarding the Supreme Court’s decision today in Tennessee v. Lane:
“Today’s decision in Tennessee v. Lane is a clear recognition by the Court that, under the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act, justice for disabled citizens does not stop at the state courthouse door. American justice requires that the public courthouse – as well as other governmental entities that provide public services, programs and activities – be open to all, including the disabled.
“The facts of this case cried out for a real, meaningful remedy. George Lane, who is disabled by paraplegia, responded to a court summons only to find that the courthouse lacked an elevator. The first time he reported to the courthouse, he was forced to crawl up stairs to a hearing. On a second trip to the courthouse, he refused to be carried up the stairs and refused to crawl up the stairs again. For that, he was arrested for failure to appear.
“Today’s decision gives Mr. Lane and others the right to seek monetary damages from states if they fail to comply with the requirements of the ADA, and thus this decision helps to ensure that the ADA is not rendered toothless.
“In several recent decisions, the Court has chipped away at the protections afforded by the ADA that the Congress to provide intended when it passed the law. Today’s decision is a welcome reaffirmation of the law’s continuing vibrancy and a recognition that states have an obligation to comply with the ADA.”