Perhaps the most troubling aspect of Judge Alito's record is his narrow interpretation of the powers that authorize Congress to pass civil rights laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Fair Housing Amendments Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and other laws of importance to people with disabilities. His rulings demonstrate cramped views of Congress's powers that would put critical disability rights laws at risk.
1999, Judge Alito ruled along with other judges on the Third Circuit to allow the National Board of Medical Examiners to flag test scores of individuals who received accommodations on their medical licensing exams due to their disabilities. The plaintiff claimed that the medical board's practice subjected him to possible discrimination in internship and residency programs. The court ruled that flagging was not discrimination because the ADA does not specifically bar it. "The decision reflects a misunderstanding of and hostility to the ADA," says Bazelon. (Doe v. National Board of Medical Examiners, 199 F.3d 146 (3d Cir. 1999)).
That same year, he ruled in ADAPT v. United States Dep't of Housing & Urban Development, a decision that prevented individuals with disabilities and from suing the Department of Housing and Urban Development for failing to enforce its regulations concerning accessible housing. "HUD had not fulfilled its duty to ensure that multi-family housing was accessible to people with disabilities. It had also failed to investigate complaints of inaccessible housing and take enforcement action, although HUD officials had acknowledged widespread compliance problems," says Bazelon. (170 F.3d 381 (3d Cir. 1999)).
Read Bazelon's full analysis.