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American Association of People With Disabilities CEO Discusses Supreme Court Victory of Golfer Casey Martin

Aired May 29, 2001 - 11:46   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 taking look at our top story, professional golfer Casey Martin being told by the Supreme Court that he has a legal right to use a golf cart between shots on the Professional Golfers' Association tour. The decision was 7-2 in favor of Casey Martin against the PGA tour, which had fought to say that if he's allowed to use a golf cart, that would unfairly change the nature of the game.

This obviously is going to have implications far beyond the world of golf.

We have with us on the phone Andrew Imparato. He is CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities.

Andrew, thanks for joining us.

ANDREW IMPARATO, AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES: Thanks for having me.

KAGAN: First, can you tell us your reaction to this victory for Casey Martin?

IMPARATO: Yes, we're very excited. From our perspective, today's decision is a victory for civil rights.

KAGAN: What about the unfair advantage that the PGA tour was concerned that Casey Martin would have if he didn't have to walk the course like other golfers?

IMPARATO: We saw this case as not being about an unfair advantage or special treatment, as they asserted, but about all athletes having an equal opportunity to compete. From our perspective, Casey Martin is an elite athlete who deserved a chance to show what he could do on the gold course.

KAGAN: Are you particularly encouraged by the strength of this decision, 7-2 in favor of Casey Martin?

IMPARATO: Absolutely. The fact that seven justices saw the wisdom of ruling in his favor, from our perspective, is a sign that the U.S. Supreme Court today has reaffirmed its commitment to equal justice for all. KAGAN: The two dissenting judges, Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia had said, and they wrote in their dissenting opinion, that where it is benevolent compassion for somebody in Casey Martin's situation, they didn't believe that the court has the power to grant that. What would you say to those two gentlemen?

IMPARATO: I'm glad that seven disagreed with them. This case was not about benevolent compassion. As a disability rights movement, we're not asking for compassion; we're asking for equal opportunity, and that's what the seven justices decided today.

KAGAN: Besides being very encouraging and inspiring, how does Casey Martin's case directly affect the millions of Americans who face disabilities every day?

IMPARATO: This case was the first case where the Supreme Court ruled on what would be a reasonable modification to a rule that would exclude people with disabilities. And the fact that they saw Casey Martin's request to ride a golf cart between holes as reasonable under these circumstances is a good sign that when future courts look at whether a reasonable judgment or a reasonable modification is required, they'll look at all the circumstances, and they won't give a knee-jerk reaction that supports a rule.

KAGAN: As you saw it, a lot more is at stake here than just a golf game.

IMPARATO: Definitely.

KAGAN: Andrew Imparato with the Association of American People with Disabilities, thanks for joining us today.

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