A long time ago, in a galaxy far away, I believed (with ardor) that the Americans with Disabilities Act would usher in a thrilling new era of employment opportunities for people with disabilities in this country. I was only 35 years old when the ADA was ratified and signed into law. I suppose you could say that I was just young enough to be uplifted by the adoption of a sweeping civil rights law. Young people are necessarily idealistic and thank heaven for that fact.
Still, 17 years later I can see how the organized "disablism" of corporate and right wing forces have worked assiduously to undermine the ADA and to further ensure that people with disabilities remain largely unemployed.
That last sentence was painful to write.
Nevertheless, a long string of U.S. Supreme Court decisions have been hostile to the power of Congress to enact civil rights legislation for people with disabilities and in turn the court has been hostile to real human beings who have real disabilities.
This is not simply a matter of personal opinion. You can look it up.
In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court has been so hostile to disability rights that Congress has started to consider legislation that’s aimed at restoring the employment discrimination oversight powers to the ADA.
Disablism is in my view the organized and determined use of power to prevent people with disabilities from becoming full members of society.
I believe along with tens of thousands of other people who have disabilities that the highest court in our land is guilty of disablism.
Justices like Antonin Scalia believe that people with disabilities should be grateful just to be carried up a flight of stairs when there’s no ramp available in a federal building. You can look it up.
Disablism is an organized and conscious affair. It differs from ableism which is simply a fear and misunderstanding about disability. The person who wants to pray for me on the public bus is an ableist.
Judges on the Supreme Court who argued that an employee whose job had been terminated because she had cancer had no legal redress because the federal government had no jurisdiction over a state’s right to fire someone, were, and are, disablist. They are looking for a loophole in the U.S. Constitution to argue that federally mandated civil rights guarantees won’t protect a disabled woman in Alabama.
You can look it up.
Disablism is still rampant long after the ADA.
Shame on our Supreme Court. Shame on the employers who spend millions to set back the cause of employment for people with disabilities.
On this day when disability rights advocates are blogging about matters of disability discrimination I want to join the chorus of good voices in cyberspace.
Disablism is alive and well in the Supreme Court and those justices who do not believe in the rights of people with disabilities are shameful men, men who are out of step with our nation’s sense of fairness.
That’s my take.
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