Friday, September 29, 2006

Sensenbrenner/Hoyer Introduce Bipartisan Legislation Restoring Americans with Disabilities Act Protections

To: National Desk

Contact: Jeff Lungren or Terry Shawn, both of the
Office of Sensenbrenner, 202-225-2492; Stacey Farnen
Bernards of the Office of Hoyer, 225-3130

WASHINGTON, Sept. 29 /U.S. Newswire/ -- House
Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner,
Jr. (R-Wis.) and House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer
(D-Md.) today introduced bipartisan legislation that
would restore protections for disabled Americans under
the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).
H.R. 6258, is titled the "Americans with Disabilities
Act Restoration Act of 2006."

Chairman Sensenbrenner stated, "The landmark American
with Disabilities Act has helped ensure American
citizens no longer live in isolation but live as
independent, self sufficient members of our
communities. In recent years, however, the Supreme
Court has slowly chipped away at the broad protections
of the ADA and has created a new set of barriers for
disabled Americans. This bipartisan legislation will
enable disabled Americans utilizing the ADA to focus
on the discrimination that they have experienced
rather than having to first prove that they fall
within the scope of the ADA's protection. With this
bill, the ADA's 'clear and comprehensive national
mandate for the elimination of discrimination on the
basis of disability' will be properly restored and the
ADA can rightfully reclaim its place among our
Nation's civil rights laws."

Congressman Hoyer said: "As the lead Democratic
sponsor of the ADA in the House, I harbored no
illusions that this legislation would topple centuries
of prejudice overnight - nor that we could legislate
that prejudice out of existence. Over the last 16
years, this landmark law has ushered in significant
change. However, the promise of the ADA remains
unfulfilled. The Supreme Court's interpretations of
this historic law have been largely inconsistent with
the original intent of Congress and President George
H.W. Bush in enacting the ADA. For example, people
with diabetes, heart conditions and cancer have had
their ADA claims kicked out of court because, with
improvements in medication, they are considered 'too
functional' to be considered 'disabled.' This is not
what Congress intended when it passed the ADA. We
intended the law to be broadly - not narrowly -
interpreted. The point of the law is not disability;
the point is discrimination. I am pleased to join
Chairman Sensenbrenner in introducing this
legislation, which will help restore the original
intent of the ADA."

"Americans with Disabilities Act Restoration Act"

Replacing "against an individual with a disability"
with "on the basis of a disability" harmonizes the ADA
with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other civil
rights laws that prohibit discrimination "on the basis
of race, color, religion, national origin, and sex."

Prohibiting discrimination "on the basis of a
disability" will enable individuals utilizing the ADA
to focus on the discrimination that they have
experienced rather than having to prove that they fall
within the intended scope of the ADA. This phrase
presumes that an individual is a member of the
protected class if they are disabled, which the
current language - "against an individual with a
disability" - does not.


/© 2006 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/


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