THE LEGACY OF RUTH BADER GINSBURG
The Olmstead Supreme Court Decision 1999
When my daughter was diagnosed with autism in 1998 I was rather ignorant of the way people with developmental disabilities had been treated in society, especially adults. I had heard of the infamous Willowbrook institution and the expose. And I was aware of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). But I did not connect these with my daughter’s future at that time.
In 1999, when my daughter was three, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled on Olmstead v L.C.
“Olmstead” is now considered the most important civil rights decision for people with disabilities in our country’s history. The Supreme Court held that people with disabilities have a qualified right to receive state funded supports and services in the community rather than institutions.
The Court found that the ADA required the placement of patients with developmental disabilities in integrated settings when they are medically cleared for such settings, they express a desire for such settings, and the resources are available.
The majority opinion in this 6-3 decision was written by Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Without this decision, many if not most people with developmental disabilities, including autism, would not be able to participate in programs like Yes She Can.
People with developmental disabilities can now self-direct how funds for supports and services are allocated. They can choose to use those funds for job skills development, and for coaching in supported employment. Learn more at olmsteadrights.org
Thank you, Justice Ginsberg.
Marjorie Madfis, President, Yes She Can inc.