DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION

United States v. Georgia; Goodman v. Georgia

Issues 

Whether the Americans with Disabilities Act is a proper exercise of Congress's power as applied to the administration of prison systems, and, if so, whether disabled prisoners can sue state prisons for disability discrimination under the Act.

 

Tony Goodman, a paraplegic inmate in the Georgia correctional system, sued the state of Georgia under Title II of the ADA for disability discrimination. He alleges that the state held him for 23 hours a day in a narrow cell in which he could not adequately move his wheelchair, failed to make bathing and toileting facilities accessible, and excluded him from services and programs because of his disability. Georgia maintains that Goodman's claims are barred by the Eleventh Amendment. The district court agreed and granted the state's motion for summary judgment. The Supreme Court will decide whether the Americans with Disabilities Act is a proper exercise of Congress's power as applied to the administration of prison systems and, if so, whether disabled prisoners can sue states for disability discrimination under the Act. If the Court affirms the decision below, the caseload of federal courts will be reduced, states will not have to worry about disability discrimination lawsuits brought against them, and taxpayers will not have to put their dollars into revamping prisons. But if proponents of abolishing state immunity are right, an affirmation might allow the alleged inhumane treatment of disabled prisoners to continue.

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties 

Whether Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 199042 U.S.C. ?? 12131–12165, is a proper exercise of Congress's power under Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment, as applied to the administration of prison systems.

Whether, and to what extent, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 199042 U.S.C. ? 12131 et seq., validly abrogates state sovereign immunity for suits by prisoners with disabilities challenging discrimination by state-operated prisons.

Tony Goodman, a paraplegic inmate in the Georgia correctional system, alleges that the state: (1) held him for more than 23 hours a day in a twelve by three foot cell – too narrow for him to even turn his wheelchair; (2) failed to make toilet and bathing facilities accessible to him to the extent that he has had to sit in his own waste; (3) denied him access to mental counselors and medical treatment for catheters and bedsores; and (4) excluded him from religious services, classes, and other programs because of his disability. See 

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Disability Law

Overview

Disability law refers to laws related to individuals with disabilities; largely, these laws protect disabled individuals from certain kinds of discrimination, particularly regarding employment, housing, education, and access to public services. Today, disability law is largely regulated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990

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