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Disability Advocacy in the Courts


Courts will only hear a case or controversy that is brought forward. ... PGA Tour v. Martin (Title III) Toyota v. Williams (Title I) ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Disability Advocacy in the Courts

Disability Advocacy in the Courts
  • Sherrie BrownDennis LangLSJ 332/CHID
    332Session 10 Fall 2006

Role of the Courts
  • Courts will only hear a case or controversy that
    is brought forward.
  • Courts are limited to the facts before it.
  • Courts role is to decide questions of fact,
    review legislative or executive actions, or
    determine constitutional questions.
  • Enforcement of the decision is a separate issue
    from ruling on the merits of the case.

Wyatt v. Stickney (Alabama 1972)
  • Mentally retarded persons involuntarily confined
    to state institution had a constitutional right
    to habilitation.
  • Humane psychological and physical environment
  • Individualized habilitation and training plan
  • Qualified professional and paraprofessional staff
    in sufficient numbers to deliver training
  • Extensive protections ordered to ensure that
    individuals were afforded basic needse.g.,
    adequate food, LRE, transition, minimal physical
    standards, etc.
  • Court also appointed a Human Rights Committee
    consisting of 7 members, including resident with
    mental retardation.

NY State Association for Retarded Children v.
Carey (consent decree 1975)
  • People with mental retardation have a
    constitutional right to protection from harm.
  • Willowbrook School forbidden from implementing
    seclusion, corporal punishment, degradation,
    medical experimentation and routine use of
  • Decree mandates individual plans for education,
    therapy, care and development of each child.
  • Established a Consumer Advisory Committee of
    parents, community leaders, residents (current
    and former) to monitor.

Mills v. Board of Education of D.C. (D.D.C.
  • 7 disabled children sued the DC public schools
    for violating their statutory and constitutional
    rights to education. DC admits that it has
    failed in its affirmative duty to supply
    plaintiffs with public education and agreed in
    1971 to do so, but did not.
  • Court ruled that the school district violated
    childrens constitutional and statutory rights
    under federal and DC law and order the school
    (under consent decree) to implement extensive
  • Violations based on two findings
  • Schools did not follow their own rules and
  • Denial of Constitutional rights to Equal
    Protection and Due Process
  • DC agreed under court order to implement
    extensive due process protections these became
    the basis for the EAHCA in 1975.

Case Analysis
  • Is a skill and like any othertakes time to
  • Dont get discouraged by the legalese, cases are
    really just stories about people just like you
    and me.
  • Try the framework I am giving you today.
  • Work together and have fun.
  • Hint it is always a good idea to read the

Briefing a case

  • Who did what to whom and why are they in court?
  • Olmstead facts
  • Two women voluntarily entered a state hospital
    for individuals with cognitive impairments
    (mental retardation and/or mental illness) to
    receive treatment.
  • They were declared fit to return to community,
    were not allowed to leave because the state
    declared there were no appropriate supports
    available for them in the community.
  • They sued the state arguing that Title II of the
    ADA prohibits a public entity from discriminating
    against qualified persons with disabilities.
  • The term "discrimination" includes the failure of
    a public entity to administer its programs in the
    most integrated setting appropriate to the needs
    of qualified individuals with disabilities.
  • Further, a public entity must make reasonable
    modifications to it policies and practices unless
    such measures would fundamentally alter the
    nature of the public entity's program.

  • What question is the plaintiff asking the court
    to address?
  • Olmstead
  • Does the nondiscrimination mandate (under Title
    II) require placement of persons with
    disabilities in community settings rather than in
    institutions in certain circumstances, in order
    to achieve the "integration" requirement?

  • How does the court answer the question or issue?
    Can be a yes/no answer.
  • Olmstead
  • Qualified YES. Unnecessary institutionalization
    violates civil rights of people with disabilities
  • States are required to make reasonable
    modifications in order to serve people in the
    community when
  • The individual desires to live in a community
  • The states treatment professionals determine
    community placement is appropriate and
  • The placement can be reasonably accommodated,
    considering the resources available to the state
    and the needs of others receiving services from
    the state.

  • How does the court reach its holding in the
    casei.e, why does the court answer the question
    the way it does?
  • Olmstead
  • Shows deference to Department of Justice
    regulations 1) unjustified placement or
    retention of persons in institutions constitutes
    discrimination by reason of disability under
    Title II and 2) reasonable modifications to
    programs/services required.
  • Looks to purpose behind ADA passage and statutory
  • Modifies the Court of Appeals construction of
    reasonable modification regulation to provide
    State some defense to obligation to immediately
    find placements in the community.
  • States have obligation to administer services
    with an even hand and may consider the
    resources available and the range of services
    required for others in State.

Cases Selected
  • PGA Tour v. Martin (Title III)
  • Toyota v. Williams (Title I)
  • McGregor v. Louisiana State University (Section
  • Southeastern Community College v. Davis (Section
  • Johnson v. Gambrinus Company (Title III)

Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Title IEmployment (employers with more than 15
  • Title IIPublic Services (state and local
  • Title IIIPublic Accommodations (private entities
    open to the publice.g., restaurants, theatres,
    schools, health care providers)
  • Title IVTelecommunications
  • Title VMiscellaneous

Basic provisions of ADA
  • Thou shall not discriminate against qualified
    people with disabilities.
  • Thou shall provide 1) reasonable accommodation or
    modification as necessary in order to allow the
    person to participate/benefit 2) auxiliary aids
    and services and 3) physical access.
  • Defenses to these duties undue hardship
    fundamental alteration to programs or services
    or direct threat.

So, go forth and brief
  • Five groups of 7-8 each are assigned a different
  • Read the case and try to identify the facts,
    issue, holding, reasoning as you read. Take about
    20 minutes.
  • Debate/discussion for about 20 minutes.
  • Assign someone to be the spokesperson for your
    group you will present your brief BRIEFLY to the

Justice for disabled people?
  • Are there any claims from justice to extend
    public provision for families to lighten the
    extra demands of raising a child with cognitive
    deficits so severe that no education or
    habilitation will turn that child into a future
    taxpayer? (Kittay at 65)
  • And is there any ground for the accusation that
    the USthe wealthiest nation in the history of
    the worldis unjust for not providing appropriate
    resources to families who lack means to properly
    care for their developmentally disabled child?
    (Kittay at 64)
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