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Casey Martin Trial and Appeals: 1998-2001

The Challenger, Walking The Course, The Next Rounds, Suggestions For Further Reading

Plaintiff: Casey Martin
Defendants: Professional Golfers' Association (PGA) Tour
Plaintiff Claim: Violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) by refusing to adapt tournament rules to accommodate his disability
Chief Lawyers for Plaintiff: Trial: William Wiswall, Martha Walters; Supreme Court: Roy L. Reardon
Chief Defense Lawyers: Trial: William Maledon; Supreme Court: H. Bartow Farr Ill
Judge: Trial: Thomas M. Coffin; Final Appeal: U.S. Supreme Court, William Rehnquist presiding
Place: Trial: Eugene, Oregon. Final Appeal: Washington, DC
Dates of Trials: Trial: February 2-10, 1998; Final Appeal: January 17, 2001; Decision: May 29, 2001
Decisions: Trial: Martin's suit upheld; Supreme Court: The PGA's appeal denied

SIGNIFICANCE: In an era when people with physical disabilities of all kinds were gaining access to many areas and activities hitherto closed to them, this was the first case in which an athlete with a disability took legal action to demand a special arrangement so that he could compete with professionals. The issue then became whether professional sports should be allowed to impose and maintain their own requirements and regulations or whether they were to be subject to the same regulations as all public organizations.

During the last quarter of the twentieth century, Americans came to be increasingly sensitive to the needs of people with physical disabilities of all kinds. This culminated in 1990 with President George Bush's signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which banned discrimination against the disabled in housing, employment, and public accommodations. The most tangible results of this law included such things as the installation of ramps and special toilet facilities. Meanwhile, alongside this kind of legal remedy, individuals with physical disabilities had begun on their own to participate in sports of all kinds, so that Americans came to accept marathoners in wheelchairs, blind skiers, and competitors with prosthetic limbs in many sports. None of these disabled individuals, however, attempted to participate in organized professional competitions until 1997, when Casey Martin, a golfer, demanded to be allowed to compete in the Professional Golfers' Association (PGA) Tour.

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