Enhancing Disability Protection Without Abandoning Principle

July 02, 2008

The ADA Restoration Act (ADARA) states as its intention to reverse Supreme Court decisions that “narrowed the class of people who can invoke the protection from discrimination that the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 provides.” The bill’s supporters claim that these decisions “ignored Congress’s clear intent as to who should be protected,” excluding “millions of people [Congress] intended to be protected under the ADA.” This article examines the ADA’s basic principles, those Supreme Court decisions, and the ADARA’s language and likely results. It concludes that, by abandoning the ADA’s basic principles, the ADARA signifi cantly expands, rather than restores, its intended coverage, and sets the ADA at odds with the rest of federal disability policy.