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Thread: Bush Turning to Opponents of ADA to Fill Crucial Judicial, Executive Positions; Enforcement in Jeopardy on Anniversary of Disability Law

  1. #1

    Bush Turning to Opponents of ADA to Fill Crucial Judicial, Executive Positions; Enforcement in Jeopardy on Anniversary of Disability Law

    Bush Turning to Opponents of ADA to Fill Crucial Judicial, Executive Positions; Enforcement in Jeopardy on Anniversary of Disability Law


    WASHINGTON, July 25 /U.S. Newswire/ -- As the Nation prepares to celebrate the 12th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and honor the life of Justin Dart, Jr., the Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient and recognized "Father of the ADA" who died just weeks ago, disability rights advocates are pausing to acknowledge the current attacks on the civil rights of people with disabilities in the Courts, Congress, and the Administration.

    "Perhaps most damaging," ADA Watch executive director Jim Ward explains, "is that President Bush has filled the ranks of the federal government -- and seeks to do the same with the court system -- with opponents of the ADA and other civil rights laws. Many of these individuals, Federalism and States' Rights extremists, have been cynically given the responsibility to enforce the very laws they have attacked. We call on President Bush to appoint individuals who will uphold Federal law protecting and empowering individuals with disabilities."

    Bush-appointed opponents of the ADA and other disability rights laws include:

    -- Ohio lawyer Jeffrey Sutton nominated to a lifetime position on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Most recently, Sutton argued the University of Alabama v. Patricia Garrett case in the Supreme Court, producing a 5-4 decision that state employees who suffered discrimination could not sue under the ADA to seek damages from the state. More that 400 disability organizations have united under the ADA Watch Coalition to oppose this nomination.

    -- Attorney General John Ashcroft who, as Senator, took the lead role in trying to weaken the due process protections afforded children and youth with disabilities by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Ashcroft's Justice Department has taken the wrong side in Supreme Court disability cases and has done little to enforce the ADA.

    -- Gerald Reynolds, recess appointed by President Bush to run the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Education (60 percent of OCR cases are disability-related). Reynolds told the U.S. Civil Rights Commission that the ADA is one of the "statutes and regulations (that) are going to retard economic development in urban centers across the country." (April 5, 1997)

    -- D. Brooks Smith, a conservative activist nominated by Bush to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, dismissed charges against institutions in Pennsylvania where horrific care of individuals with mental disabilities included flies and ants on food, maggots and ants on residents, residents sitting in wheelchairs for hours without having their diapers changed, injuries due to neglect, overmedicating, and more. Judge Smith concluded that the State had no constitutional obligation to "enhance the resident's level of functioning."

    -- Eugene Scalia, Bush's controversial recess appointee to Solicitor at the Department of Labor. Scalia has made a career out of representing big business against employees and has sought to limit the scope of the ADA. He has called federal ergonomics regulations proposed to prevent disabilities in the workplace "junk science."

    -- Bush's Interior Secretary, Gale Norton, who advocated for states' rights by claiming that "we lost too much" when the South was defeated in the Civil War. (Independence Institute Speech, 1996) Norton also threatened to sue the federal government for forcing Colorado to add a wheelchair ramp to the statehouse under the ADA, calling it "a really ugly addition to the state capitol."

    -- Linda Chavez, Bush's first pick for Secretary of Labor, ridiculed the ADA as 'special treatment in the name of accommodating the disabled.'" (AP, Jan. 5, 2001) Chavez runs the Center for Equal Opportunity (CEO), whose legal counsel, Roger Glegg, has repeatedly attacked the ADA for what he calls its "dubious rationale and its silly results" and believes Congress should at least exclude protections for people with "mental impairments." (The Public Interest, June 1st, 1999)

  2. #2
    Senior Member Max's Avatar
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    Disability Law Advocates Target Bush Judicial Nominee

    Disability Law Advocates Target Bush Judicial Nominee
    By Jeff Johnson
    CNSNews.com Congressional Bureau Chief
    July 26, 2002

    Capitol Hill (CNSNews.com) - Supporters of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are using Friday's 12th anniversary celebration of passage of the law as a platform to criticize several of President Bush's nominees for their "attacks on the civil rights of people with disabilities."

    "Perhaps most damaging is that President Bush has filled the ranks of the federal government, and seeks to do the same with the court system, with opponents of the ADA and other civil rights laws," Jim Ward, executive director of "ADA Watch" claimed in a press release Friday. "Many of these individuals, [who are] Federalism and States' Rights extremists, have been cynically given the responsibility to enforce the very laws they have attacked."

    ADA Watch has criticized Interior Secretary Gale Norton for her prior advocacy for states' rights, and Attorney General John Ashcroft for having "taken the wrong side in Supreme Court disability cases" and having "done little to enforce the ADA." But the person currently at the top of the coalition's target list is Ohio lawyer Jeffrey Sutton, Bush's nominee to the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

    "Five justices on the Supreme Court have been steadily chipping away at civil rights protections for people with disabilities in recent years," claimed Andrew Imparato, president and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD).

    "Jeffrey Sutton is the most prominent lawyer who has been providing the chisel that activist federal judges have been using to disenfranchise and disempower millions of Americans with disabilities," he said.

    Imparato and Ward are highly critical of Sutton for his successful defense of the State of Alabama in "Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama v. Garrett." ADA Watch and AAPD have portrayed the litigation as a "disabilities rights" case. But John Nowacki, director of legal policy for the Free Congress Foundation, said that the dispute was actually over "sovereign immunity."

    "What was going on in the Garrett case just simply had nothing to do with the rights of the disabled," he explained. "It had to do with following what the 11th Amendment to the Constitution actually says regarding suing states in federal court."

    Sutton successfully argued that state, not federal courts were the proper venue to resolve accusations of discrimination against the disabled by state government agencies, because the 11th Amendment forbids citizens from suing states in federal court unless Congress:



    Specifically asserts its intent to create an exception to the prohibition;

    Shows that the states are intentionally violating the law and, therefore, the rights of the class of citizens it is authorizing to sue states under the exemption; and

    Limits plaintiffs to seeking court-ordered enforcement of the law the state is accused of violating, not monetary damages.


    Nowacki said Congress could not show that the states were knowingly and intentionally violating the rights of the disabled. In fact, he added, the legislative debate on the ADA tends to support the assertion that the states were making special efforts to accommodate the disabled.

    That hasn't stopped Sutton's opponents from attacking him for defending the states.

    "This is typical of these groups that are coming out opposing Bush's nominees to grossly misrepresent the facts of the cases that they were involved in, either as judges or as advocates," Nowacki said.

    Bush nominated Sutton, the former Solicitor General for the State of Ohio, on May 9, 2001. The Senate Judiciary Committee has not yet scheduled a hearing on his nomination. Fifty-three of President Bush's judicial nominees are awaiting confirmation hearings, with 35 of those vacancies declared as judicial emergencies due to the number of vacancies - currently totaling 90 - on the various courts.

    E-mail a news tip to Jeff Johnson.

    Send a Letter to the Editor about this article.

  3. #3

    required reading....

    This thread ought to be required reading by everyone at this site.

  4. #4
    Senior Member alan's Avatar
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    You'd think someone who is mentally disabled like Bush would want to see fellow disabled folks protected.

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