#AdvocacyMatters: Oversight and Oversteps

May 6, 2022 / #AdvocacyMatters

The ongoing battle towards a fair and equitable society is complex, and often overwhelming. Simply advocating and pushing for improved access and service systems isn’t enough, as there are active efforts to undermine the victories that have already been secured. It’s difficult to know where to focus.

Last month, the State of Florida filed a petition with the US Supreme Court, attempting to block the US Department of Justice’s ability to bring lawsuits against state and local governments to enforce the Americans with Disabilities Act. Florida’s argument that the Justice Department lacks the authority to sue state or local governments over ADA violations has already been rejected by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, at which point Florida asked the Supreme Court to hear the case. In short, this case could do incredible harm to the ADA and the government’s ability to enforce the law’s protections.

Last month more than 40 allied organizations and individuals joined DRO in sending a letter to Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, asking him not to join Florida’s push for the Supreme Court to take this case. You can read a copy of that letter here.

“People with disabilities and their allies have fought hard for decades for these legal protections,” the letter argues. “The ADA has made enormous progress in ensuring people with disabilities have equal access in programs and services of states and local governments, including rights to effective communication for people who have vision, hearing, or cognitive impairments and rights to physical accessibility for people who use wheelchairs or other mobility devices. The U.S. Department of Justice’s enforcement authority has been critical in upholding these rights under the Title II of the ADA. This also includes enforcement of the Olmstead decision, which provides rights to live and receive services in community settings instead of institutions. ”

These direct attacks against the rights of every American with a disability cannot be allowed to succeed. With each of these efforts, our advocacy and resolve will only grow stronger. To truly foster an inclusive and equitable society we cannot simply focus on the barriers ahead. Because #AdvocacyMatters for those who came before us and those who will come after, we must constantly look back to protect the victories already logged.

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