FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 28, 2022
CONTACT: Jalyn Radziminski, Jalynr@bazelon.org
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law released the following statement from Legal Director Ira Burnim responding to the Supreme Court’s decision today in Cummings v. Premier Rehab Keller, PLLC:
"We are saddened by the Court’s decision to weaken the protections for people with disabilities in the Rehabilitation Act and the Affordable Care Act. Americans with disabilities rely on the protections of these federal statutes to live, work, learn, and access healthcare free from discrimination. Nearly 50 years since the passage of the Rehabilitation Act, too many people with disabilities continue to face isolation and humiliation as a result of discrimination. By limiting their ability to seek and obtain money damages for the emotional distress they experience when their rights are violated—in many cases, the only cognizable harms such plaintiffs experience—today’s decision has significantly limited their access to justice.
People with disabilities are also members of other historically disadvantaged communities and are protected by civil rights laws from discrimination on other grounds. We join the broader civil rights community in condemning this decision, which may affect the enforceability of civil rights statutes designed to prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, and age, in addition to disability. People seeking recourse for civil rights violations already face numerous obstacles, and today's decision creates another obstacle to remedying the harms they experience in schools, hospitals, workplaces, state and local government programs, and other settings.
We hope that Congress or a future Supreme Court will revisit this issue and reverse this decision, which misunderstands the intent behind these vitally important civil rights statutes. In the meantime, we will work to ensure that our federal judiciary better reflects the people of this nation to whom our courts should be accountable, including the millions of people with disabilities, and that our judges better understand and fairly adjudicate our critical civil and disability rights laws."
About the Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law: The Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law protects and advances the civil rights people with mental and developmental disabilities – especially Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) and other historically marginalized populations. We envision a society where our constituents with mental disabilities live with autonomy, dignity, and opportunity in welcoming communities supported by law, policy, and practices that help them reach their full potential. For more information, visit: bazelon.org