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US Supreme Court review wanted on NH House in-person sessions

New Hampshire House members stand for the Pledge of Allegiance during an outdoor meeting at the...
New Hampshire House members stand for the Pledge of Allegiance during an outdoor meeting at the University of New Hampshire in January.(Charles Krupa | AP)
Published: Apr. 26, 2021 at 2:26 PM EDT
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CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - New Hampshire’s House Speaker wants to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review a case involving a challenge to holding in-person legislative sessions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this year, seven Democratic lawmakers sued Sherman Packard, a Republican, arguing that holding in-person sessions without a remote option violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and the state and federal constitutions, and forces them to either risk their lives or abandon their duties as elected officials.

A federal judge in Concord ruled in Packard’s favor. But the Boston-based 1st Circuit Court of Appeals sent the case back to the judge to hold further proceedings to determine if the plaintiffs are “persons with disabilities within the meaning” of the ADA or the federal Rehabilitation Act.

The attorney general’s office is representing Packard and said in a document filed Monday that if the 1st Circuit won’t rehear the case, then it should delay its ruling so Packard can ask for the Supreme Court to review it.

The 1st Circuit’s decision does away with legislative immunity “on the broad swath of potential claims arising under the ADA or Rehabilitation Act,” the attorney general’s office argued.

Separately, Packard’s office issued a statement Monday saying “there have been no known COVID-19 cases” resulting from the last House sessions, which were held April 7-9 at a sports complex in Bedford. There also were no cases reported in two prior indoor sessions.

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