Court May Hear Disabled Golfer Case

Wednesday, July 5th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) — The PGA Tour wants the Supreme Court to rule that disabled golfer Casey Martin has no legal right to ride in a golf cart between shots during its tournaments.

In an appeal filed with the nation's highest court Wednesday, lawyers for PGA Tour Inc. argued that a federal anti-bias law, the Americans with Disabilities Act, should not apply to Martin's case.

The ADA does not regulate ``standards established for competitors (here, professional golfers) in athletic competitions held at places of public accommodation,'' the appeal said.

A federal judge and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals previously rejected that argument, allowing Martin to use a cart in PGA Tour-sanctioned events.

The Supreme Court, now in summer recess, is not expected to say until October whether it will grant the PGA Tour's appeal and hear arguments in the case. If it denies review, the lower courts' rulings will stand.

Martin, who sued the PGA Tour in 1997, has a circulatory disorder in his right leg that makes it painful for him to walk long distances. The disorder, a congenital vascular condition, is called Klippel-Trenaunay-Weber Syndrome.

The PGA Tour's appeal also argued that the ADA was never meant to require professional sports organizations to waive competitive rules for disabled competitors.

``So far as we are aware, no court has ever before held that a professional sport must waive a legitimate competitive rule to enable a would-be participant, disabled or not, to more successfully compete,'' the appeal said.

In ruling for Martin last March, the 9th Circuit court relied on a provision in the ADA that bans discrimination on the basis of disability ``in the full enjoyment of ... facilities ... of any place of public accommodation.''

The law's definition of public accommodation includes places of exercise and recreation, including golf courses.

The case is PGA Tour v. Martin, 00-24.