By John S. McClenahen Ranging from biotechnology patents to the taking of private property, 21 business cases, the largest number in nine years and 50% of the total number of cases accepted so far, are slated to be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court during the term that begins Oct. 1. Most will get their hearings during October, November, and December, indicates Roy T. Englert Jr., a partner at the Washington law firm of Robbins, Russell, Englert, Orseck & Untereiner LLP. Of the business cases on the docket, five are likely to have the greatest impact on manufacturers. What constitutes a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the central issue in Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky Inc. v Williams (No. 00-1089). Workplace seniority systems and alleged discrimination under the ADA are at odds in US Airways Inc. v Barnett (No. 00-1250). Allegations of "continuing" racial discrimination and administrative deadlines for filing claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act are the focus of National Railroad Passenger Corp. v Morgan (No. 00-1614). A U.S. Labor Dept. regulation that penalizes employers who fail to meet certain notice requirements related to the Family Medical Leave Act is being contested in Ragsdale v Wolverine Worldwide Inc. (No. 00-6029). And preferences for "disadvantaged business enterprises" are at issue in Adarand Constructors Inc. v Mineta, Secretary of Transportation (No. 00-730), a government-contract, affirmative-action case.