You are here

The Public Accommodation Formerly Known As SJ

Citations

Simple Justice cites CEI`s Hans Bader on the Americans with Disabilities Act:

Walter Olson, at Overlawyered, here and hereAmy Alkon and Hans Bader have gone to town on an Economist article about how the Americans with Disabilities Act may change the nature of the internet.  Where once there were websites and blogs, there will soon be public accommodations.

Generally, the First Amendment gives you the right to choose who to talk to and how, without government interference. There is no obligation to make your message accessible to the whole world, and the government can’t force you to make your speech accessible to everyone, much less appealing to them.

But that, of course, is speech.  And the internets are a thing, even if only virtual.

But now, the Obama administration appears to be planning to use the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to force many web sites to either accommodate the disabled, or shut down. Given the enormous cost of complying, many small web sites might well just go dark and shut down.

The administration wants to treat web sites as “places of public accommodation” subject to the ADA, even though they are not physical places. Courts used to reject this argument when it was made just by disabled plaintiffs, but now that the Justice Department is making it, too, some judges are beginning to buy it, opening the door to trial lawyers surfing the web and sending out extortionate demand letters to every small business whose web site is not accessible to the blind (or perhaps too hard to understand for the mentally-challenged).