Oct. 22, 2002 --
In the wake of the recent series of Supreme Court rulings limiting the Americans with Disabilities Act, the National Council on Disability has begun to develop a series of policy documents dealing with implications of the rulings, and on the law's future. The first of these documents, "Righting the ADA," is available online (in an accessible format) at http://www.ncd.gov/newsroom/publications/rightingtheada.html
Part of the reason for the series, says NCD, is to "respond to certain inaccurate comments about the ADA leveled by Justice O'Connor, and to several key media misrepresentations of and erroneous attacks on the ADA." Justice O'Connor has said that the ADA was intended for "the wheelchair bound," "not those with bad backs." (David G. Savage, "Justices Debate Applying Disability Law to Job Injury," Los Angeles Times, Nov. 8, 2001, available in archives at http://www.latimes.com/services/site/archives).
"Regrettably, the Supreme Court of the United States has seriously undermined the ADA's principles and objectives in a string of decisions, effectuating a harmful rollback of the civil rights of people with disabilities," says NCD. "The Supreme Court's pinched construction of the ADA has significantly abridged and narrowed its scope of protection in contradiction to a massive amount of documented and persuasive authority. Such rulings of the Court and the attendant harmful media portrayals of the ADA have had a devastating impact on the lives of many Americans with disabilities, and portend their return to second-class citizenship."
"A consensus is emerging in the disability community," says the Council, "that it is time to fight back." Thus, the goal of this series is to legislative proposals for addressing issues "that appear appropriate for legislative correction." For more information, contact Mark Quigley at firstname.lastname@example.org or Joan Durocher at 202-272-2004.
The National Council on Disability (http://www.ncd.gov) is an independent federal agency. "Under its current statutory mandate, NCD is responsible for gathering information and making recommendations about the implementation, effectiveness, and impact of the ADA," explains the Council.
The ADA emerged from policy recommendations of the Council back in the 1980s. The initial documents that called for the creation of a comprehensive civil-rights act for persons with disabilities and laid out the initial bill can be found at http://www.ncd.gov/newsroom/publications/toward.html ("Toward Independence,") and http://www.ncd.gov/newsroom/publications/threshold.html ("On the Threshold of Independence"). For a history of the ADA in Congress, read "Equality of Opportunity: The Making of the Americans with Disabilities Act," online at http://www.ncd.gov/newsroom/publications/equality.html
Learn more about the Supreme Court rulings at http://www.accessiblesociety.org/topics/topicsindex.shtml#sup