Disability Rights Enforcement An Uphill Battle, Top Justice Official Says
There’s still a long way to go in upholding disability rights 20 years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to the Justice Department’s top civil rights attorney.
Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez told a group of disability rights attorneys Thursday that despite enforcement efforts, thousands of Americans remain unnecessarily institutionalized and accessibility is not as universal as it should be.
“No matter how aggressively we enforce the law, 20 years after the signing of the ADA we still face the challenge of attitudes and stereotypes that stigmatize disabilities and are every bit as destructive as racism, sexism, homophobia and the other prejudices that have certainly lessened over time, but have not been completely eradicated from our hearts and minds,” Perez said in a speech at the annual conference of the National Disability Rights Network in Los Angeles.
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
Both President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have indicated that civil rights enforcement is a top priority for the administration. Since Obama took office last year, the Justice Department has pursued legal action in more than 10 states related to disability issues.
Many of the cases have involved access to community living as part of Obama’s “Year of Community Living” initiative to expand housing options in honor of the tenth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead v. L.C. which favored the option of living in the community whenever possible.