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Supreme Court Tries Disabled Americans

June 08, 2002

Thank you, Charles Lindner, for exposing the hatchet job that the U.S. Supreme Court has been doing on the rights of Americans with disabilities ("Supreme Court Upsetting a Rights Movement," Opinion, June 2). If the court were to erode civil rights protections based on race or gender discrimination, there would be a great outcry. Sadly, although disabilityrights advocates are very much aware of what the court has been doing, few others seem to be very concerned.

Disability is a natural part of life. At some point, the vast majority of Americans will experience it. If you care about your own civil rights, you should be paying close attention to what the court is doing to ours. By the time you develop a disability it may be too late.

Laura Remson Mitchell

Winnetka

*

Lindner said, "If the court did to the 1964 Civil Rights Act what it has done to the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act, blacks would be living again in pre-1954 America: separate and unequal, undereducated and underemployed." Several recent stories have said that the U.S. was more segregated in the '90s than it was in the '60s. The 2002 Time Almanac gives these figures: Life expectancy: white, 77.3 years; black 71.4. Household median income: white, $42,504; black, $27,910. High school dropout rate: white, 7.3%; black, 12.6%. College graduation rate: white, 25.9%; black, 15.4%. Average unemployment rate in 2000: white, 3.5%; black, 7.6%. Similar figures are widely available and not seriously disputed.

In net, then, Lindner is hopelessly optimistic about the power of the Supreme Court to change things. It will take far more than a friendly court to change the even more negative figures about handicaps. All the Americans With Disabilities Act amounts to is a full-employment act for lawyers. The Supreme Court is to be praised for insisting a little common sense be allowed.

David Carl Argall

La Puente

*

It has been 13 years since the ADA was passed, and in that time this civil rights law has become a litigious law. The fact is that this is an inaccessible society that has been slow to accept that people with disabilities have rights too, especially when it involves money.

The difference between this and Brown vs. Board of Education and other civil rights decisions is that the rights the ADA secures cost money. Access isn't cheap, yet is there a price on liberty and freedom? According to the Supreme Court, there is. These restrictions on the ADA show that even the most intelligent citizens of our country are ignorant of disability.

Vince Wetzel

Director, Media Relations

California Foundation

for Independent Living Centers

Sacramento

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