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CORRECTION: The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday summarily vacated an Eighth Circuit decision in a Nebraska case that argued that people have a Constitutional right to receive services in their own homes rather than being forced into institutions. The Eighth Circuit had said they don't.

"Just so you know, the [Supreme] Court isn't going to hear the case," law professor and Disability Law blogger Sam Bagenstos emailed me after I'd written that "The U. S. Supreme Court said Monday it will hear a Nebraska case that will decide if people have a Constitutional right to receive services in their own homes rather than being forced into institutions." "They granted certiorari then summarily vacated the Eighth Circuit's decision and remanded for further proceedings in light of U.S./Goodman v. Georgia. So the case isn't going to be in the Supreme Court anytime soon, if at all. I have a more detailed analysis on my blog post."

Oops! As I say, I'm no lawyer.

The suit was originally filed 3 years ago by Nebraska Advocacy Services against the state of Nebraska for failing to "fully fund" community-based services for people and thus putting them in danger of institutionalization.

Anyhow, a case like this, were the Supremes to hear it, would certainly have profound implications -- both for people on waiting lists for community services and for people being forced into nursing homes because of the lack of in-home services, as I blogged about Monday.

Nebraska Advocacy Services in its suit says that "under certain circumstances, the denial of community-based services which results in the unnecessary institutionalization of persons with disabilities is a violation of their fundamental liberty interest protected by U. S. Constitution," according to Advocacy Services attorney Shirley Ann Mora James.

When the suit was first filed, the state argued that it was "immune" from ADA suits; later, the  8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that Nebraska could not be sued under Americans with Disabilities Act's Title II (which pertains to government services).

But in January, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled in the case Goodman v. Georgia that states are not automatically immune from lawsuits from disabled individuals claiming a right to nondiscriminatory services  -- and in light of this ruling, the Court has decided to "re-visit" this Nebraska case, known as Bill M. v. Nebraska Dep't of Health and Human Services.

The plaintiffs are  seeking home- and community-based services available through the state's Home and Community Based Waiver Program -- and the state has "unlawfully restricted funding" to the program, says the suit.

To read about the legal implications of this case, visit the Disability Law Blog.

The news story:
U S high court orders new hearing in disabilities case (Sioux City Journal)

Originally posted to mjohnson on Wed Apr 19, 2006 at 08:48 AM PDT.

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