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.
In other coronavirus-related news:
A 9,000-seat amphitheater in New Hampshire's Lakes Region is advertising a combination of reduced- and full-capacity shows this summer, and businesses that benefit from people visiting the venue are happy to see some traffic again.
“Of course it’s going to be much better than 2020, but I’m not sure it’s going to be as good as 2019,” Frank Tuscano, general manager of the nearby Fireside Inn and Suites, told The Laconia Daily Sun. “If we can do the numbers like we did in 2018, I’d be very happy.”
Tuscano said when the Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion in Gilford had to cancel its shows last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, it cut his season's numbers nearly in half. In 2019, combination of multiple shows and Motorcycle Week kept him busy in the summer.
Amy Landers of the Lakes Region Tourism Association said the Bank of NH Pavilion, as well as the Great Waters festival in Wolfeboro, feature talent that inspires fans to drive from Massachusetts, Vermont or Maine, and engage in other tourism in the area.
Nearly 94,000 people have tested positive for the virus in New Hampshire, including 138 cases announced Monday. Two new deaths were announced, for a total of 1,286.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in New Hampshire decreased over the past two weeks, going from 430 new cases per day on April 10 to 319 new cases per day on Saturday.