ACLU Commends Senate Committee for Support of ADA Restoration Act

November 15, 2007 12:00 am

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Washington, DC – The American Civil Liberties Union commends the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Chairman Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Ranking Member Michael Enzi (R-WY), for holding a hearing on S. 1881, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Restoration Act of 2007. The ACLU also acknowledges the leadership and vision of Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) for their co-sponsorship and support of this important legislation.

“Today’s hearing is an excellent opportunity to examine a shortfall of the Americans with Disabilities Act – the fact that many people with disabilities remain excluded from employment discrimination protections,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “People with epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, bipolar disorder and diabetes have been denied ADA protection because of a series of U.S. Supreme Court decisions restricting the definition of disability.”

Chai Feldblum, a former ACLU legislative counsel, was a principal author of and advocate for the original ADA in conjunction with the disability and civil rights communities. At today’s hearing Professor Feldblum, now with the Georgetown University Law Center, will call on Congress to restore the promise and intent of the ADA. She will urge Congress to make it clear to the courts that the ADA extends to all people with disabilities, regardless of mitigating measures, if they have suffered employment discrimination on account of their disability.

“It’s time to fix the confusion caused by the courts,” said Joanne Lin, ACLU legislative counsel. “The courts have created a Catch-22 wherein individuals taking medication or using other measures to manage their disability may no longer qualify as ‘disabled’ under the ADA and are now denied protection from employment discrimination.”

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