Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Bipartisan History of Disability Rights


Yesterday I wrote on the Endrew F. v Douglas County decision from the Supreme Court. It's powerful and could make a real difference in special education in this country. In the meantime, though, even as the decision was being handed down, ADAPT (a direct action disability rights group) was occupying the Capitol Rotunda, chanting, and eventually being arrested. I wrote a piece about SCOTUS, Gorsuch, and ADAPT, while remembering all the ways that disability rights can and should be bipartisan.
For decades, Democrats and Republicans have come together to pass legislation and support regulations to make America more inclusive for people with disabilities. Not only did a Republican president (George H.W. Bush) sign the ADA in 1990 after it passed with overwhelming majorities, but the same congress and president easily reauthorized the Education for the Handicapped Act and renamed it IDEA. A Republican congress reauthorized the same bill under President Bill Clinton, in 1997. In 2008, President George W. Bush signed the ADA Amendments Act, passed by a Democratic congress, which explicitly expanded ADA protections to people with mental disabilities. President Barack Obama signed a law permitting some disabled people to work and save money without jeopardizing access to benefits, and another encouraging integrated work opportunities for disabled people. These were both passed by huge margins in the otherwise highly partisan 113th and 114th congresses.
Read the whole piece here.

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