by Chris Danielsen
From the Editor: Chris Danielsen is our energetic director of public relations, and he writes this short follow-up to the article in the October issue entitled “Accessibility and Accountability: Drive-by Lawsuits Leave Pothole-size Problems.” In that piece Chris mentioned the request by Domino’s Pizza that the Supreme Court declare that the Americans with Disabilities Act did not apply to the internet. Here is his recounting of what just happened:
In last month’s Braille Monitor, we mentioned a petition pending before the United States Supreme Court brought by Domino’s Pizza. Domino’s had filed what is legally known as a petition for certiorari, or “cert petition,” which is a legal document asking the Supreme Court to review a lower court’s ruling. Each year the Supreme Court hears a select group of cases drawn from such petitions. Domino’s wanted the Supreme Court to overrule a decision by the Federal Court of Appeals for the Ninth Judicial Circuit, based in California. That ruling had affirmed the right of a blind man, Guillermo Robles, to sue the company under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because he couldn’t use its website to order a pizza. Domino’s argued that the Supreme Court should put an end to such lawsuits by ruling that the ADA does not apply to websites, or, if the court wasn’t willing to go that far, to at least rule that it was unfair to allow such lawsuits in the absence of federal regulations setting accessibility standards. So far, the United States Department of Justice, which enforces the ADA, has declined to issue such regulations. Obviously, any ruling along the lines Domino’s wanted would have made it much harder, or perhaps impossible, for the National Federation of the Blind and others to bring ADA claims regarding inaccessible websites.
The Monitor went to press before Monday, October 7, the “first Monday in October” that begins each Supreme Court term. Thus, it was unclear at the time whether the Supreme Court would take the case. On that exact first Monday, the Supreme Court issued an order denying the petition. This means that the ninth circuit’s ruling stands and that Mr. Robles’ case will go forward. More importantly, it means that for now the ability to bring website claims under the ADA remains intact.