PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Lori Sitler, Department of Justice Maria Taylor, DNREC
Phone: (302) 577-8314
Pager: (302) 247-1132
Date: May 19, 2004
DELAWARE ATTORNEY GENERAL’S POSITION ADOPTED BY U.S. SUPREME COURT
Tennessee vs. Lane Extends Rights to Disabled
(Wilmington, DE): The United States Supreme Court, in their ruling in Tennessee vs. Lane, a
case which upheld the rights of the disabled under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), adopted
the position put forth by Delaware and Kansas, announced Delaware Attorney General Jane Brady.
Attorney General Brady stated, “The Supreme Court ruled that certain fundamental rights cannot be
deprived individuals with disabilities without subjecting states to financial liability.” Monday’s 5
-4 decision by the Supreme Court interprets Title II of the ADA which bans bias in public services
and programs. The ruling stated that persons with disabilities could sue states for monetary damages
if they were denied access to courthouses and court proceedings.
Brady and Kansas Attorney General, Phill Kline, submitted an Amicus Curiae brief which
was a middle ground between those states that argued that the sovereign immunity clause barred a
private right of action for monetary damages against a state and those states which argued that
Congress abrogated the states’ immunity and allowed private citizens to sue for monetary damages for
violations of Title II of the ADA. The Delaware and Kansas brief argued that Congress had validly
abrogated the states’ immunity in enacting Title II of the ADA but only with regard to fundamental
rights such as voting, access to the courts and privacy.
The ruling was heralded by community advocates for the disabled. Rita Landgraf, Chair of
the State Council for Persons with Disabilities said the Council was, “thrilled with the ruling. It
is a victory for persons with disabilities. The ruling supports our belief that all persons with
disabilities are entitled to their civil rights and this ruling helps ensure that we have accessible
court buildings and an accessible court process. I am pleased that our Attorney General supported
Laura Waterland, Senior Staff Attorney for the Disabilities Law Program of the Community
Legal Aid Society of Delaware said of the ruling that she was, “delighted and pleasantly surprised.
This is a great result for our clients. We appreciate the continued support from the Attorney
General’s office on these issues.”
Brady said, “The position I took fairly balanced my desire to see that all people are
treated equitably with my obligations as Attorney General. I believe this decision is a fair and