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"I think that Casey Martin's case is an exemplary case of just why we have the ADA. Using a cart in no way alters the game and it provides him a reasonable accommodation so he can compete." Sen. Tom Harkin. Tom Harkin mug

Casey Martin ADA Case to define what's "public"

On Jan. 17, the U. S. Supreme Court heard the case of professional golfer Casey Martin, who sued the PGA Tour under the Americans with Disabilities Act in order to be allowed to use a golf cart to accommodate his disability (leg pain and weakness which is the result of a circulatory disorder). The case has been high-profile since its inception.

Read coverage of the Jan. 17 oral arguments in The Christian Science Monitor at http://www.csmonitor.com/durable/2001/01/17/fp1s1-csm.shtml
  • Read commentary from salon.com at http://www.salon.com/news/sports/col/barra/2001/01/17/pga/print.html

  • "The PGA Tour is a public entity--you pay your money and you try to qualify, so it's open to the public," Harkin told Los Angeles Times sports reporter Thomas Bonk, "-- and allowing Casey to use a cart is a reasonable accommodation and does not fundamentally alter the nature of the competition." Harkin, a chief ADA sponsor, filed an amicus brief in the case, along with Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), former Sen. Robert Dole and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). Harkin and Dole co-authored the Americans With Disabilities Act. "We believe our amicus brief should carry a lot of weight with the court," Harkin said. "We built a record to show what we meant in regards to the ADA. We are still alive, we're still here and we wrote the bill. "

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    Martin has been using a golf cart since 1998, when a U.S. district court judge in Eugene, Ore., issued a permanent injunction against the PGA. The PGA Tour appealed, but last March, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court decision in a 3-0 vote.

    In its decision, the appeals court wrote that walking was not an integral part of the game, but that hitting golf shots was. Once again, the PGA appealed, this time to the only legal avenue remaining, the Supreme Court.

    "The PGA Tour has insisted from the beginning that this issue has always been about the tour's ability to implement and set the rules of its competition, and the rules include walking," Bob Combs, PGA senior vice president for public relations and communications, told Bonk.

    Read the Los Angeles Times story at http://www.latimes.com/sports/times/20010115/t000004217.htm


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