In early September, the Tenth Circuit issued its opinion in our case against Hollister’s faux front porches. It was good news, good news, but ultimately bad news: we prevailed on standing and class certification — making some darn good law in the process — but lost on the merits. Judge Kelly, writing for the majority, held essentially that since “porches” weren’t mentioned in the accessibility standards, Hollister’s porches could be inaccessible. Judge McHugh, in dissent, took the opposite view: that the standards generally require access unless an exception applies.
On October 16, we filed a petition for rehearing or rehearing en banc. Today, the U.S. Department of Justice and a group of disability rights organizations each filed amicus briefs in support of our petition. Both briefs were terrific and deeply appreciated. But one paragraph of the latter brief, which was written by Michelle Uzeta, stands out for me:
For an individual who uses a wheelchair, the symbolic meaning of the Hollister store design is simple and direct. The staired and extensively decorated main porch entrance, through which able-bodied customers are welcomed, celebrated and able to enjoy the full Hollister experience, is off-limits; a privileged space in which individuals with disabilities are not welcome. Denied the shade of the mission-style overhang and feeling of entering a hip California surf shack, individuals with disabilities are relegated to using plain, shuttered doors located to the side of, and recessed behind, the open main porch area. The message is clear. You don’t belong here. You need to stay out of sight. You need to be separated. You have less value. You are unequal.
When I grow up, I want to write like that! Thanks, Michelle and all of our amici for these amazing briefs!