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Unraveling the Rights of the Disabled

June 16, 2002

Re "Disabled's Right to Jobs Narrowed," June 11: The Supreme Court has once again found a chance to limit the most significant civil rights legislation in 35 years. While the case involving a former Chevron refinery worker with liver disease who wanted his job back has its complexities, the issue lies not with the decision itself but with the disturbing trend of the court's opinions. In three decisions involving the Americans With Disabilities Act this year, the Supreme Court has sided with business. In those three rulings, justices have overruled the appeals court decision. In March, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said that the ADA was written with haste and was too broad.

Instead of interpretation, the court sees its job as that of rewriting ADA legislation in its own image. This power is not granted to the court by the Constitution. Yet, with its new authority, the court denies power to people with disabilities and their rights to reasonable accommodations in the workplace.

O'Connor has said that this court will be remembered for the amount of ADA cases it will have to hear. She's right; yet the court's legacy will not be with its burden of work but with the denial of civil liberties and the court's ignorance of disability.

Eric Vasquez

Executive Director

Community Rehabilitation

Services, Los Angeles

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