"Perhaps most damaging," ADA Watch executive director Jim Ward explains, "is
that President Bush has filled the ranks of the federal government -- and seeks
to do the same with the court system -- with opponents of the ADA and other civil
rights laws. Many of these individuals, Federalism and States' Rights extremists,
have been cynically given the responsibility to enforce the very laws they have
attacked. We call on President Bush to appoint individuals who will uphold Federal
law protecting and empowering individuals with disabilities."
Bush-appointed opponents of the ADA and other disability rights laws include:
-- Ohio lawyer Jeffrey Sutton nominated to a lifetime position on the Sixth
Circuit Court of Appeals. Most recently, Sutton argued the University of Alabama
v. Patricia Garrett case in the Supreme Court, producing a 5-4 decision that state
employees who suffered discrimination could not sue under the ADA to seek damages
from the state. More that 400 disability organizations have united under the ADA
Watch Coalition to oppose this nomination.
-- Attorney General John Ashcroft who, as Senator, took the lead role in trying
to weaken the due process protections afforded children and youth with disabilities
by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Ashcroft's Justice
Department has taken the wrong side in Supreme Court disability cases and has
done little to enforce the ADA.
-- Gerald Reynolds, recess appointed by President Bush to run the Office of
Civil Rights at the Department of Education (60 percent of OCR cases are disability-related).
Reynolds told the U.S. Civil Rights Commission that the ADA is one of the "statutes
and regulations (that) are going to retard economic development in urban centers
across the country." (April 5, 1997)
-- D. Brooks Smith, a conservative activist nominated by Bush to the 3rd Circuit
Court of Appeals, dismissed charges against institutions in Pennsylvania where
horrific care of individuals with mental disabilities included flies and ants
on food, maggots and ants on residents, residents sitting in wheelchairs for hours
without having their diapers changed, injuries due to neglect, overmedicating,
and more. Judge Smith concluded that the State had no constitutional obligation
to "enhance the resident's level of functioning."
-- Eugene Scalia, Bush's controversial recess appointee to Solicitor at the
Department of Labor. Scalia has made a career out of representing big business
against employees and has sought to limit the scope of the ADA. He has called
federal ergonomics regulations proposed to prevent disabilities in the workplace
-- Bush's Interior Secretary, Gale Norton, who advocated for states' rights
by claiming that "we lost too much" when the South was defeated in the Civil War.
(Independence Institute Speech, 1996) Norton also threatened to sue the federal
government for forcing Colorado to add a wheelchair ramp to the statehouse under
the ADA, calling it "a really ugly addition to the state capitol."
-- Linda Chavez, Bush's first pick for Secretary of Labor, ridiculed the ADA
as 'special treatment in the name of accommodating the disabled.'" (AP, Jan. 5,
2001) Chavez runs the Center for Equal Opportunity (CEO), whose legal counsel,
Roger Glegg, has repeatedly attacked the ADA for what he calls its "dubious rationale
and its silly results" and believes Congress should at least exclude protections
for people with "mental impairments." (The Public Interest, June 1st, 1999)