Disability advocates fume as prosecutors refuse to allow an attorney to appear for them
Credit: Amanda Schwab/Startraks

In a brewing controversy, Noah Wyle and 73 other people are being ordered to appear in court in Washington, D.C., next Tuesday after their arrest at a Medicaid protest last month.

The former ER actor was seen in handcuffs on April 23 in the rotunda of the Cannon House Office Building, where he and members of the disability-advocacy group ADAPT were urging Congress not to cut Medicaid.

Such arrests are fairly routine for ADAPT members, who are usually allowed to be represented in court by an attorney. Forcing them to appear in person is controversial, as many members live a plane ride away and will struggle to afford another trip to D.C. on short notice, Disability Scoop reports.

“I’m shocked and angry,” Marsha Katz, a member of ADAPT who lives in Missoula, Mont., told the site. Her husband, Bob Liston, who uses a wheelchair, was among those arrested.

“This is the first time in more than 20 years that the court wouldn’t allow an attorney to represent us and wouldn’t entertain a motion to postpone,” Katz said. “Are they doing this to dissuade us from exercising our First Amendment rights?”

Wyle, a vocal advocate for universal healthcare, has not commented on the ruling.