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Supreme Court Rules Disabled Golfer Can Ride in Competition

Aired May 29, 2001 - 10:49   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Once again, breaking news out of the Supreme Court, a big victory for professional golfer Casey Martin.

With more on that, let's go to Jeanne, in Washington -- Jeanne.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN ANCHOR: Daryn, the court's ruling was 7-2 that Casey Martin can indeed use a golf cart when he competes in Professional Golfers' Association events.

Joining me here now is Roger Cossack, our legal analyst, host of "BURDEN OF PROOF," and avid golfer -- even with a golf club with him today.

ROGER COSSACK, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I've brought my golden putter to talk about this today.

MESERVE: What are the implications for the Americans with Disabilities Act?

COSSACK: It's a great victory. The facts in this case are almost perfect for what this decision should be. Here you have golf, which is played, as you know, by all of us boring men around here at CNN, and most of us play in a cart. The pros, however, part of their game, what they argue is, is not just the actual ability to hit the ball like they do, but it's the stamina of walking around the course, that it's not as easy at hole 16, 17 and 18 as it is at hole 1, 2 and 3 because you are just that much more exhausted, and that that's part of the game: Those who can hold up better and 18 or 17 are better golfers.

Along comes Casey Martin, clearly with all the ability to play in the professional tour, but with a disability that makes it impossible for him, physically, to walk the course. The only way he can then compete is to go around in a cart like most of us Sunday golfers do anyway. The Professional Golfers' Association comes along and says that's not the way you play the game. It's just as if we gave a chair for the shortstop to sit on in the game. It's just not the way it's done. Hence the case ends up before the United States Supreme Court.

MESERVE: What are implications for other professional athletes?

COSSACK: That's a good question. Suppose a baseball player was an excellent baseball player but had a disability that would prevent him or her from playing the game. These are things that are going to have to be decided, I think mostly on a case-by-case basis. In this case, it was an easier case because there's nothing that Casey Martin has wrong with him that prevents him from swinging the club and doing those kinds of things that we mostly associate with golf. But what he can't do is walk the course.

Now, the tradeoff is he's going to ride the course. The Professional Golfers' Association says, Wait a minute, that's giving him an advantage over the rest of us. The Supreme Court said, No the Disabilities Act says that he gets to participate.

MESERVE: Roger Cossack, thanks for analysis -- and take that out on the golf course, I guess.

COSSACK: Maybe Casey will give me a little help with this now.

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