Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Key to Ensuring Disability Rights? It May Be the Courts

I've shared a discouraging prediction with several friends: I think it's unlikely that the rights, treatment, and support for people with disabilities will improve over the next four years. The best we can hope for is to maintain the protections and programs that are currently in place.

That's why I was encouraged by the rapid response of the ACLU and the courts to President Trump's travel ban, which was unquestionably unconstitutional and a denial of rights based on religion. I know that will be the first of many damaging policies that will get shot down on legal grounds.

Writing for Rewire, Robyn Powell emphasizes the importance of the courts in defending and even advancing rights. She says: "As a disabled woman and an attorney, I am keenly aware of two things: Disability rights are facing significant threats under the Trump administration, and courts can greatly advance or hinder civil rights." She cites the recent Supreme Court decision Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools, which sided with the family of a 13-year-old girl who was denied the right to bring her service dog to school. The court ruled that a family can seek enforcement under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) without first going through the administrative process under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Powell writes: "If the election and Trump have taught me anything, it has been to expect the unexpected. What is clear to me is that disability rights, civil rights, Muslim rights, Jewish rights, immigrant rights, reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, and the rights of people of color are all under attack....It is important that we actively pursue all means necessary for enforcing our civil rights...[and] the courts may indeed be our best option."

Read "Are the Courts the Solution to Ensuring Disability Rights During the Trump Era?"

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