Calling All Lawyers: Defending Against the US Chamber of Commerce
You don’t have to be a lawyer to blog about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Restoration Act of 2007 (HR 3195, S 1881). All you really need is a modicum of passion about justice and equality for Deaf people and people with disabilities, a modicum of understanding of how the courts have torn apart a hefty portion of the promise of the original Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and a modicum of understanding of how the ADA Restoration Act of 2007 is meant to rescue it. Oh, and you need a blog to blog with.
But there are times when a lawyer’s insight into the law simply cannot be replaced. Or, failing that, at least someone who has made a serious and intensive study of the ADA as it was originally written, what Congress originally intended for it to do, and what has happened to it in the courts since. If you fit into either of these categories, then I hope you’re paying attention–even if you don’t (yet) have a blog of your own. (I’m willing to host your essay if you don’t have a place to post it yourself.) KEEP READING.
It seems the US Chamber of Commerce has now launched an attack on the ADA Restoration Act. This is not trivial. The US Chamber of Commerce, as they explain in their letter, represents more than three million businesses of every size and in every sector. In other words, more than three million potential employers.
<a href=”http://adarestoration.blogspot.com/”The ADA Restoration Act of 2007 blog, perhaps not surprisingly, was the first to bring attention to this new and major source of opposition. Do go read their original post on this issue at http://adarestoration.blogspot.com/2007/08/take-action-chamber-of-commerce-opposes.html. They have been urging people to take action by writing letters to complain directly to the US Chamber of Commerce, with further instructions there.
The US Chamber of Commerce, for their part, claims that it “strongly supports equal opportunity in employment.” Yet, it attacks the ADA Restoration Act, which is meant to return to disabled Americans the equal opportunity in employment that the original ADA should have given them–but didn’t. It claims that the Restoration Act represents a “whole-sale rewriting” of the definition of disability. (It doesn’t. It CLARIFIES the definition that the courts were originally meant to understand when the ADA was first passed 17 years ago.)
The letter from the US Chamber of Commerce makes a long series of claims against the ADA Restoration Act. And I’m sure that the above misunderstanding is not the only one. But unfortunately, my mere “modicum of understanding” does not stretch far enough to be able to pick apart their letter and counter it point by point. And I think this letter cries out to be countered point by point, by someone (hello, lawyers or avid law-readers out there?) who knows how.
Firstly, a good, insightful, but ACCESSIBLE analysis could help enhance everyone’s understanding of what the original ADA and the ADA Restoration Act are really meant to do. Two, a good, thoughtful, accurate, and well-informed analysis of the US Chamber of Commerce letter could give advocates more ammunition to use in defending the ADA Restoration Act against its would-be detractors. And, no, I’m not just talking about people who are thinking of writing a letter to the US Chamber of Commerce itself. I’m also talking about people whose congressional representatives or senators have not yet become cosponsors of HR 3195 or S 1881 — and do not plan to because they, too, oppose the ADA Restoration Act, perhaps for some of the same reasons given by the US Chamber of Commerce. And I’m also talking about people whose friends, neighbors, fellow church or temple members, or coworkers try to use the same arguments against the ADA. How can they argue back effectively without a better understanding of exactly where these arguments fall apart?
That’s where YOU could come in. If you’re a lawyer–or just someone who has taken a bunch of classes in disability policy and really understands the ADA well–please step forward. If you have a blog of your own, please BLOG ABOUT THE ADA RESTORATION ACT. Including a blog post picking apart the US Chamber of Commerce letter. If you haven’t a blog, then send your essay to me at ashettle (at) patriot.net and, if I think it’s good, I’ll post it for you right here.
For the rest of you (who are not lawyers) — please DO still blog about the ADA Restoration Act, too, to the best of your ability. I meant what I said in the first paragraph. If you have a blog, then please go back and re-read it. And if you do write a fresh blog post about the ADA Restoration Act, then please come back here and leave a comment so I’ll know about it. Thank you.