High Court Bolsters Disability Protections
The U.S. Supreme Court made it easier for state protection and advocacy organizations to ensure the rights of individuals with disabilities in two separate actions this month.
In cases brought before the high court, justices were asked to weigh whether or not the federally-mandated organizations in each state have the right to sue if they are denied access to records while investigating possible abuse or other wrongdoing.
Last week the high court ruled in favor of the Virginia Office of Protection and Advocacy and now the court is declining to hear a similar case out of Indiana, which will allow a lower court ruling in the advocates’ favor to stand.
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In both cases the advocacy groups sued after they were refused access to records related to residents who died while living in or shortly after leaving state-run institutions.
The court actions are a major win for the disability rights community since access to records is “essential to fully investigate instances of abuse and neglect,” says Curt Decker, executive director of the National Disability Rights Network, an umbrella group for the protection and advocacy organizations in each state.