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Sotomayor and the ADA/bar-exam case

As I mentioned last week:

The one case of [Sotomayor's] of which I've been most sharply critical over the years is Bartlett v. Bar Examiners, the famously long-drawn-out disabled-rights case in which Judge Sotomayor ruled that a seriously learning-disabled bar applicant who'd already failed the bar exam several times with extensive accommodations was legally entitled to yet further chances and accommodations. I wrote up the case here and here, among other places....

Now a post by Anthony Dick at NRO "Bench Memos" gives a quick summary of why the case is so controversial:

you might think that, since reading ability is an important part of practicing law, and the bar exam is designed to ensure minimal competence among lawyers, papering over a test-taker's lack of reading ability would somewhat defeat the purpose. It would seem clear to most people that, in the language of the ADA, compromising the standards of the test regarding a basic legal skill would not qualify as a "reasonable accommodation." But that would be a decidedly unempathetic point of view. Such an attitude is in fact "invidious," according to Sotomayor's opinion.

It is far from clear that any of this will constitute so much as a speed bump on the path to Senate confirmation for Sotomayor, since lawmakers on the Hill have shown little or no interest in reining in adventurous interpretations of the Americans with Disabilities Act -- indeed, when the Supreme Court moved on its own to rein some of them in, Congress responded with legislation to overturn the decisions and re-liberalize rights to sue under the law. (cross-posted, slightly adapted, from Overlawyered). A different view: Larry Ribstein.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.