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Tennessee v. Lane

Supreme Court of the United States

January 13, 2004, Argued ; May 17, 2004, Decided

No. 02-1667

Opinion

 [*513]  Justice Stevens delivered the opinion of the Court.

LEdHN[1A][] [1A]  [**1982]  Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA or Act), 104 Stat 337, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-12165 [42 USCS §§ 12131-12165], provides that HN1[] "no qualified individual with [****10]  a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any such entity." § 12132. The question presented in this case is whether Title II exceeds Congress' power under § 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment.

In August 1998, respondents George Lane and Beverly Jones filed this action against the State of Tennessee and a number of Tennessee counties, alleging past and ongoing violations of Title II. Respondents,  [***831]  both of whom are paraplegics who use wheelchairs for mobility, claimed that they were denied access to, and the services of, the state court system by reason of their disabilities. Lane alleged that he was compelled to appear to answer a set of criminal charges on the second floor of a county courthouse that had no elevator.  [*514]  At his first appearance, Lane crawled up two flights of stairs to get to the courtroom.  [**1983]  When Lane returned to the courthouse for a hearing, he refused to crawl again or to be carried by officers to the courtroom; he consequently was arrested and jailed for failure to appear. Jones, a certified court reporter,  [****11]  alleged that she has not been able to gain access to a number of county courthouses, and, as a result, has lost both work and an opportunity to participate in the judicial process. Respondents sought damages and equitable relief.

The State moved to dismiss the suit on the ground that it was barred by the Eleventh Amendment.  The District Court denied the motion without opinion, and the State appealed. 1 The United States intervened to defend Title II's abrogation of the States' Eleventh Amendment immunity. On April 28, 2000, after the appeal had been briefed and argued, the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit entered an order holding the case in abeyance pending our decision in Board of Trustees  v. Garrett, 531 U.S. 356, 148 L. Ed. 2d 866, 121 S. Ct. 955 (2001).

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541 U.S. 509 *; 124 S. Ct. 1978 **; 158 L. Ed. 2d 820 ***; 2004 U.S. LEXIS 3386 ****; 72 U.S.L.W. 4371; 15 Am. Disabilities Cas. (BNA) 865; 17 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 299

TENNESSEE, Petitioner v. GEORGE LANE et al.

Prior History:  [****1]  ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT.

Lane v. Tennessee, 315 F.3d 680, 2003 U.S. App. LEXIS 303 (6th Cir. Tenn., 2003)

Disposition: Affirmed.

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