Four Thousand March with ADAPT to Supreme Court

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Solidarity prevailed yesterday as several thousand disability advocates joined with nearly 800 ADAPT activists on the U.S. Capitol grounds, rallying in support of the "integration mandate" of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Over 100 organizations co-sponsored the rally which was organized by ADAPT, a national disability rights group with chapters in  39 states.

      Chanting "Our homes, not nursing homes" with Senator Tom Harkin (D--Iowa), and listening to Governor Dick Thornburgh describe the signing of the ADA in 1990, the crowd was united in its passion to preserve the "most integrated setting" regulation. Thirteen year old Kyle Glozier, a longtime ADAPT activist, told the crowd, "I don't know why the Olmstead decision has even gone to the Supreme Court".

     The rally finished as disability advocates and activists took their outrage to the steps of the Supreme Court. Marchers filed into the street to wheel and walk the four blocks, and a magnificent wave of people, 4000 strong according to the Supreme Court police, gathered before the Supreme Court to send a message to the justices that will decide the fate of the ADA integration mandate.

     The statement, "Integration, not Segregation", was everywhere. It was written on t-shirts, buttons, flags, banners, signs, hats, and stickers. The crowd became a chorus stepping up the volume, and sending a powerful message to Congress and the Court. "Our liberty, our freedom, our right to choice, these are fundamental rights," said national ADAPT organizer Stephanie Thomas. "If the court can't recognize these basic human rights, we must continue the fight. Victory will be ours."

    The disability community considers the lawsuit before the Supreme Court, formally known as Olmstead v. L.C. & E.W. to be the "Brown v. Board of Education" for people with disabilities. Far from being an alarmist viewpoint, the fact that the Supreme Court even agreed to hear the oral arguments brings into question the intent of Congress in passing the law.

     Nearly ten years after its passage, the ADA is now being tested in the highest court in the land, despite two U.S. Circuit Court decisions supporting the right to services in the "most integrated setting". Without a strong "integration mandate", the ADA will no longer be a civil rights law. ADAPT vows to continue the "Don't Tread on the ADA" campaign, supporting integration, not segregation and civil rights not state's rights.

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Last updated May 17, 1999