March 8, 2003
WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court canceled arguments Friday in a case that jeopardized disabled Americans' rights to sue states over accommodations like inadequate public transportation.
Justices had scheduled arguments March 25 in a California case that tested the scope of the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act.
California asked the court last year to hear the appeal, then in an unusual move urged the court this month to dismiss the case. Advocates for the disabled lobbied state leaders for the reversal.
Legal experts predicted that California had a good shot of winning the case against a doctor who sued after the state's medical board refused to give him a license because of his clinical depression. Dr. Michael Hason argued that the disabilities law required the licensing board to accommodate his disability, by offering him a probationary license.
Justices said Friday that they were calling off arguments. An order dismissing the case could follow later this month.
The Supreme Court could have used the case to shield government agencies and schools from lawsuits under ADA. California Attorney General Bill Lockyer said in a letter to the Medical Board of California that it would be "truly unfortunate" for the Hason case to cause broad limits on all people with disabilities.
Hason opposes the dismissal and his lawyer has asked the court to require California to pay legal fees and damages.
The case is Medical Board of California vs. Hason.