PGA TOUR v. MARTIN

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
00-24
Petitioner 
PGA Tour
Respondent 
Martin
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the respondent)
(On behalf of the United States, as amicus curiae, supporting the respondent)
(Argued the cause for the petitioner)
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Facts of the Case 

Casey Martin is afflicted with a degenerative circulatory disorder that prevents him from walking golf courses. His disorder constitutes a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). When Casey made a request to use a golf cart for the duration of the qualification tournament onto the professional tours sponsored by PGA Tour, Inc., PGA refused. Martin then filed suit under Title III of the ADA, which requires an entity operating "public accommodations" to make "reasonable modifications" in its policies "when... necessary to afford such...accommodations to individuals with disabilities, unless the entity can demonstrate that making such modifications would fundamentally alter the nature of such...accommodations." Ultimately, the District Court entered a permanent injunction against PGA, requiring it to allow Martin to use a cart. The court found that the purpose of the PGA's walking rule was to insert fatigue into the skill of shot-making, and that Martin suffered significant fatigue due to his disability, even with the use of a cart. In affirming, the Court of Appeals concluded that golf courses are places of public accommodation during professional tournaments and that permitting Martin to use a cart would not fundamentally alter the nature of those tournaments.

Question 

Does the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 provide access to professional golf tournaments by a qualified entrant with a disability? May a disabled contestant be denied the use of a golf cart because it would "fundamentally alter the nature" of the tournaments to allow him to ride when all other contestants must walk?

Conclusion 
Decision: 7 votes for Martin, 2 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Yes and no. In a 7-2 opinion delivered by Justice John Paul Stevens, the Court held that Title III of the ADA, by its plain terms, prohibits the PGA from denying Martin equal access to its tours on the basis of his disability and that allowing Martin to use a cart, despite the walking rule, is not a modification that would "fundamentally alter the nature" of the game. "The purpose of the walking rule is... not compromised in the slightest by allowing Martin to use a cart," wrote Justice Stevens, noting Martin's fatiguing disability. Justice Antonin Scalia, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, dissented.

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PGA TOUR v. MARTIN. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 12 July 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2000/2000_00_24>.
PGA TOUR v. MARTIN, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2000/2000_00_24 (last visited July 12, 2014).
"PGA TOUR v. MARTIN," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed July 12, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2000/2000_00_24.