SCOTUS Issues Term’s First Decision – Finds ADA Case Moot
The U.S. Supreme Court recently issued the term’s first decision in an argued case. In Acheson Hotels, LLC v. Laufer, 601 U.S. ____ (2023), the Court unanimously held the case is moot, declining to reach a closely watched issue of “tester” standing under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).
Facts of the Case
The Supreme Court granted review to consider whether Deborah Laufer has Article III standing to sue hotels whose websites failed to state whether they have accessible rooms for the disabled as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, even if Laufer had no thought of staying at the hotels, much less booking a room.
According to court documents, Lauter systematically searched the internet to find hotels that failed to contain enough information about the accommodations for people with disabilities. Upon finding violations, Lauter filed hundreds of lawsuits alleging the hotel websites violated the ADA.
While the district court dismissed her suit against Acheson Hotels for lack of standing, the First Circuit Court of Appeals reversed. It held that the denial of accessibility information was an actionable Article III injury. Several other federal appeals court reached the opposite conclusion based on similar facts.
As the Court’s opinion noted, “Laufer has singlehandedly generated a circuit split.” The Second, Fifth, and Tenth Circuits have held that she lacks standing; meanwhile, the First, Fourth, and Eleventh Circuits have held that she has it. The Supreme Court granted review to address the split. However, after a lower court sanctioned her lawyer, Laufer voluntarily dismissed her pending suits, including her case against Acheson Hotels, and filed a suggestion of mootness in this Court. The justices deferred a decision on mootness until after oral argument.
Supreme Court’s Decision
The Court unanimously agreed the case is moot and, thus, did not reach whether a self-proclaimed “tester” has standing to assert an alleged ADA violation.
In reaching its decision, the Court acknowledged Acheson’s argument that though “Laufer’s case is dead, the circuit split is very much alive.“ However, it did not agree that it should settle the standing issue in a case that is otherwise moot. In light of its decision, the Court remanded the case back to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit with instructions to dismiss the case.
While the Court did not reach the main issue in the case, Justice Clarence Thomas authored a concurrence concluding that Laufer lacks standing. According to Justice Thomas, Laufer’s “claim d[id] not assert a violation of a right under the ADA, much less a violation of her rights.” While not binding, lower courts may be influenced by his reasoning.
SCOTUS Kicks Off January 2024 Session With Five Casesby DONALD SCARINCI on January 25, 2024
The U.S. Supreme Court returned from recess on January 4, 2024. The Court’s January session will ...
SCOTUS to Take on Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clauseby DONALD SCARINCI on January 24, 2024
The U.S. Supreme Court’s January docket features several closely watched cases involving constitu...
Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Case Over Access to Abortion Pillby DONALD SCARINCI on January 17, 2024
The U.S. Supreme Court recently agreed to take on another controversial abortion dispute. The conso...
- Establishment ClauseFree Exercise Clause
- Freedom of Speech
- Freedoms of Press
- Freedom of Assembly, and Petitition
- The Right to Bear Arms
- Unreasonable Searches and Seizures
- Due Process
- Eminent Domain
- Rights of Criminal Defendants
Preamble to the Bill of Rights
Congress of the United States begun and held at the City of New-York, on Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.
THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.