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The Bazelon Center has just released its "highlights of a long and troubling record" of disability right cases decided by Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito.

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.

A few examples:

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.

Originally posted to mjohnson on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 08:06 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The saddest day for anyone in this country (none)
    who is either disabled or who cares for a disabled person, was the day this administration took office.

    They began rolling back rights almost from day one.

    It's a sad, sad, thing.  


  •  You might be next (none)
    You can get disabled in a split second.
    Or, if you work with a  computer keyboard and mouse, or other repetitive job, in a matter of weeks or months.

    A world of difference between Democrats and Republicans on this issue.

    Shout it from the rooftops.

    •  ... with no rights (none)
      Tragically, the actions of the Supreme Court in the 15 years since the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act have managed to remove millions from its protections -- protections intended by Congress. With RSI, for example, the Court in 2002 decided that repetitive stress injuries didn't constitute a "disability" under the ADA.

      The Circuit Courts and the Supremes, confusing a civil rights law with a benefits law, have continually wanted "proof" that someone is "disabled" enough to use the law. The law was intended to focus on DISCRIMINATION, not whether you were "disabled enough!"
      For more on that point, see here and here.

      •  Thank you, lawyer ROBERTS (none)
        >> With RSI, for example, the Court in 2002 decided that repetitive stress injuries didn't constitute a "disability" under the ADA.

        Supreme Court Justice Roberts was the successful lawyer for Toyota against a disabled worker who should have been able to keep the alternative job of inspecting rather than using her injured arms to wipe cars on the assembly line. Mean. Even evil.

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