Supremes Vacate Ruling in Waiting List Case
A lawsuit filed 3 years ago by Nebraska Advocacy Services against the state of Nebraska for failing to "fully fund" community services for people with developmental disabilities (thus putting them in danger of institutionalization) will be looked at anew by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, the result of an order handed down Monday by the U. S. Supreme Court.
The case has profound implications for people on waiting lists for community services and people being forced into nursing homes because of the lack of in-home services.
Nebraska Advocacy Services in its suit argued that "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," according to Advocacy Services attorney Shirley Ann Mora James.
When the suit was first filed, the state argued that it was "immune" from ADA suits; later, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that Nebraska could not be sued under Americans with Disabilities Act's Title II (which pertains to government services).
But in January, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled in the case Goodman v. Georgia that states are not automatically immune from lawsuits from disabled individuals claiming a right to nondiscriminatory services. In light of this ruling, the Supreme Court has now vacated the Eighth Circuit's decision and told the Appeals Court to "re-visit" this Nebraska case, known as Bill M. v. Nebraska Dep't of Health and Human Services.
The plaintiffs -- people on Nebraska's waiting list -- are seeking home- and community-based services available through the state's Home and Community Based Waiver Program -- and the state has "unlawfully restricted funding" to the program, says the suit.
For more on this issue, visit the Disability Law Blog.
U S high court orders new hearing in disabilities case (Sioux City Journal)
Petition for Certiorari (U.S. Supreme Court document)