The Department of Justice may think that the lack of wheelchair accessible cabs in the city is discriminatory against the handicapped but that is just because they don't understand. In court yesterday a lawyer for the city made the jaw-dropping argument that since the TLC doesn't actually deal with riders, it just licenses the cabs who deal with them, it has no obligation to serve the handicapped. No, really! "Your position is [that] no one has any responsibility, and it would be perfectly legal if there was not a single accessible taxi cab in New York City?" Judge George B. Daniels reportedly clarified yesterday. "You understand how extreme that sounds?"

"We don’t believe we have the obligation," city lawyer Robin Binder replied.

So instead of being upset that just 232 of the city's 13,000-odd cabs are wheelchair-accessible and that the Nissan "Taxi of Tomorrow" simply isn't wheelchair-accessible (without a promised retrofitting) we should all just be grateful that the TLC is "working" on a new dispatch system that will let the handicapped call for a ride (ready by March 2012, they swear!)? No thank you. As one of the plaintiffs in the case, Christopher Noel, put it: "The TLC is basically saying that we'll come up with a system eventually, and then we'll get to you, but for now we'll just pick up everyone else and then we'll get to everyone else. It hurt me when I heard their argument."

Judge Daniels did not rule on the case yesterday, but says he will by Christmas. And his decision could really go any way. He could agree with the city and say screw you to the handicapped, he could say that the TLC needs more accessible cars in the fleet or he could even say that the entire fleet needs to be accessible (or provide an equivalent alternative).