Yesterday, the Sixth Circuit released a decision that will surely strike close to the hearts of every attorney and law school student. In Binno v. American Bar Association, the court found that the ABA was not the responsible party for the plaintiff’s harm, which allegedly resulted from his experience with the LSAT. More specifically, Angelo Binno filed suit against the ABA on grounds that, because he is blind, he is “incapable of perceiving spatial relationships or performing the necessary diagramming to successfully complete the logic-games questions….” And due to the ABA 503 Standard, which provides that a law school must require applicants to take a “valid and reliable admission test,” law schools were unwilling or unable to provide a waiver that would allow Binno to be exempt from taking the LSAT and reporting his scores.
The court first rejected Binno’s claim by determining that he could not establish Article III standing. Although the LSAT is the only “valid and reliable” test listed by the ABA, the majority reasoned that because the ABA allows schools to find an alternative to the LSAT, because it does not require a certain weight to be given to the LSAT score, and because it does not control the content of the LSAT, Binno could not demonstrate that the ABA caused his harm. The court further found that even if the ABA made Standard 503 optional, a law school could still choose to require the LSAT in their admissions process; therefore, Binno’s claim also failed the redressability prong of Article III standing.
Second, the court found that even if Binno could establish standing, his complaint nevertheless failed because he is also unable to establish a claim under the ADA. Title III of the ADA requires private entities that “offer” admissions examinations to do so with appropriate accommodations for those with disabilities. Because the ABA is unable to control the content, how, or where the exam is administered, the Court found that it is also unable to “offer” the exam. The court therefore concluded that the ABA cannot be in violation of Title III.
In light of recent successful litigation against the LSAC for claims mirroring Binno’s, the majority was “left puzzled by Binno’s failure to litigate against the LSAC.” In his concurrence, Judge Griffin, however, found that the majority’s reliance on the argument that Binno “somehow sued the wrong party” overlooks one of Binno’s critical allegations: the ABA previously permitted law schools to give individual LSAT waivers. The concurrence thus concludes that the causation and redressability elements of Article III standing were met, as this allegation makes clear that the ABA does have some control over whether Binno is required to take the LSAT and report his scores (but ultimately agreed with the majority on the merits).