Blog or Not?

A statistically improbable polymath's views on politics and culture.

Monday, May 17, 2004
The Day's Other Big Civil Rights Triumph
There will probably end up being over 100,000 lines of text written on Massachusetts's first legal same-sex marriages--an event I find worthy of being noted and celebrated. However, we shouldn't let the momentousness of this occasion overshadow another event which happened today, an event I believe actually affects more people:

The Supreme Court ruled that individuals can sue their states without state permission.
The case began when Lane tried to sue the state of Tennessee for up to $100,000 for what he claimed was humiliating treatment that violated the ADA.

Lane crawled up the Polk County courthouse steps once for an appearance in a reckless driving case, but was arrested in 1996 for failing to appear in court when he refused to crawl a second time. Courthouse employees have said he also refused offers of help.

Tennessee did not dispute that the courthouse lacked an elevator, or that the state has a duty to make its services available to all. The state argued, however, that Lane’s constitutional rights were not violated and that he had no right to take the state to court.

The state claimed that Congress went too far in writing the ADA, because the Constitution says a state government cannot be sued in federal court without its consent.

See, this is why I'm not a big fan of the states' rights-heavy interpretation of the Constitution--because states are notorious for infringing upon the rights of their citizens. I believe one of the roles of the federal government is to protect the rights of individuals against the states; I believe one of the roles of state governments is to protect the rights of individuals against the federal government. Unfortunately, I've found that my fellow citizens are lax in holding these governments to these duties--which is why we need lawsuits.

And again, as with my commentary on Brown v. Board of Education on Monday, Tennessee should pay--I'll leave the figure to a jury to decide. Even though my sales tax dollars will probably foot the bill. I figure that if I ever become severely disabled I want the state to know that it has to treat me right.

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