Restoring the Americans with Disabilities Act

Washington, DC – Today the American Civil Liberties Union participated in a briefing in conjunction with the Leadership Conference for Civil Rights, to discuss the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Restoration Act of 2007 (H.R. 3195 / S. 1881). The briefing was held to expand the base of supporters for this vital legislation beyond the disability community, specifically reaching out to veterans services organizations, unions, civil rights and religious groups, racial justice organizations, and others.

Joanne Lin, legislative counsel with the ACLU Washington Legislative Office, moderated the briefing and discussed the ACLU’s historic role in drafting and advocating for the original Americans with Disabilities Act which passed with strong bipartisan support and was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush in 1990. Chai Feldblum, a former ACLU legislative counsel, was a principal author of and advocate for the original ADA in conjunction with the disability and civil rights communities. At today’s briefing Professor Feldblum, now with the Georgetown University Law Center, explained how the ADA Restoration Act of 2007 is necessary to restore Congress’ intent in passing the original ADA.

Said Lin, “In the seventeen years since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Supreme Court has slowly chipped away as its core protections, and as a result, the promise of equal employment is not currently extended to all people with disabilities.” Lin outlined potential political strategies for securing congressional support and passage.

Introduced in both the Senate and House of Representatives in July, the ADA Restoration Act is slated for markup this month in the House Education and Labor Committee, and could go to the full House of Representatives for a floor vote as early as the end of the month. The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions held a hearing on ADA Restoration in November.