Sensenbrenner Introduces Legislation to Restore Americans with Disabilities Act Protections
In a bipartisan and bicameral move today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Menomonee Falls) joined House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), along with Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Arlen Specter (R-PA), to introduce the ADA Restoration Act of 2007, legislation which would restore the ADA’s clear national mandate for the elimination of discrimination on the basis of disability.
Seventeen years ago, Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act to break down the physical and societal barriers that kept disabled Americans from fully participating in the American Dream. As a result, citizens with disabilities have experienced increased opportunities, higher graduation rates, higher employment rates and lower rates of poverty.
However, since then, the full promise of the law has not been fulfilled. Through a series of court decisions, the Supreme Court has chipped away at the protections of the ADA, leaving millions of citizens vulnerable to a narrow interpretation of the law.
“The Supreme Court’s interpretation has created a vicious circle for Americans with disabilities,” said Sensenbrenner. “It has created a broad range of people who benefit from ‘mitigating measures’ such as improvements in medicine, who still experience discrimination from employers, yet have been labeled ‘not disabled enough’ to gain the protections of the ADA. This is unacceptable.”
The ADA Restoration Act will force courts to focus on whether a person has experienced discrimination “on the basis of disability,” rather than require individuals to demonstrate that they fall within the scope of the law’s protection.
“The effectiveness of the ADA is paramount to ensuring that the guarantees and promises on which this country was founded continue to be protected for all citizens,” Sensenbrenner concluded.
The ADA Restoration Act was introduced with over 130 original cosponsors.