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University of the District of Columbia Law Review

Abstract

The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”)2 “was and is all about civil rights.”3 Enacted in 1990, its goal was to prohibit discrimination based on disability across society, from employment to places of public accommodation and government services. As the byproduct of bipartisan support and significant advocacy and leadership by members and allies of the disability community, there were high hopes that the ADA would live up to its goal. Unfortunately, that reality never came to pass for many individuals with disabilities. Instead, a line of Supreme Court decisions in 1999 and 2002 imposed increasingly narrow interpretations of the law’s core provisions that removed many individuals from the scope of the ADA’s protections. 4 The Court found that disabled individuals either “mitigated” their condition through treatment or failed to demonstrate that their condition “substantially limits” major life activities within the meaning of the statute.

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