The 'Rumble of a Dream Deferred' - Understanding the Court's Reluctance to Implement the Americans with Disabilities Act
Paul Steven Miller
University of Washington School of Law
August 4, 2008
The experience of the first fifteen years of judicial implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act are dramatically different. Courts have been hostile to interpreting the ADA in an expansive, remedial manner as compared to the manner in which other civil rights statutes are interpreted. Miller argues that the answer can, in part, be explained by the vastly different historical and social contexts of the disability civil rights movement and the race and gender civil rights movement. Title VII legislation was built upon a civil rights movement that changed many of the hearts and minds of mainstream Americans. The civil rights movement, as an educational tool, created a moral foundation upon which Title VII was passed and implemented. By contrast, the disability civil rights movement occurred outside of the mainstream media and was largely invisible up until the passage of the ADA. Miller argues that this lack of social context presents a challenge to judges who often decide cases without understanding the disability experience. For this reason, many courts interpret the ADA in economic, rather than moral terms.
Keywords: Americans with Disabilities Act, ADA, disability civil rights, civil rights movement, civil rights, Title VII, Title Seven, Civil Rights Actworking papers series
Date posted: October 30, 2009
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