August 15, 2018
The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) opposes the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court based on his previous rulings as a DC Circuit Court Judge that have devalued the lives and liberty of people with disabilities. Judge Kavanaugh’s rulings and statements on health care, self-determination, employment, and education threaten the rights of all Americans with disabilities.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) allowed millions more people with disabilities to gain access to health care by prohibiting discrimination on the basis of a pre-existing condition. Judge Kavanaugh has repeatedly expressed public skepticism of the ACA and has ruled in several cases to undermine elements of the law and hinder its implementation. These rulings set a dangerous precedent for the disability community. AAPD will not support a Supreme Court nominee whose actions and record jeopardize disabled individuals’ access to health care and, therefore, impact their ability to live, work, and participate in their communities.
The principle of self-determination holds that people with disabilities must have the freedom and authority to exercise control over their own lives. Based on his ruling in Doe ex rel. Tarlow v. D.C., Judge Kavanaugh believes otherwise. The Doe plaintiffs were subjected to elective surgeries based on the consent of DC officials; Judge Kavanaugh dismissed the notion that the plaintiffs could express a choice or preference regarding medical treatment on the basis of their intellectual disability. AAPD will not support a Supreme Court nominee who does not affirm the rights and abilities of people with disabilities to determine the course of their own lives.
Regarding employment discrimination, Judge Kavanaugh has consistently ruled in favor of employers while routinely disregarding the experiences of people with disabilities. He has time and time again, demonstrated undue deference to employers and a narrow understanding of anti-discrimination protections. AAPD will not support a Supreme Court nominee who does not protect the rights of workers with disabilities.
Judge Kavanaugh is also a strong proponent of school voucher programs. Typically, students with disabilities who participate in these programs are forced to waive their rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), including the right to receive a free and appropriate education (FAPE). Given the ongoing threats to a quality education for students with disabilities, AAPD will not support a Supreme Court nominee who is willing to trade away these protections.
“The nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court is a very real threat to the lives and liberty of people with disabilities,” said Ted Kennedy, Jr., Chair of the AAPD Board of Directors. “His record gives every indication that as a Supreme Court Justice, Judge Kavanaugh’s rulings will turn back the progress of the disability rights movement to a pre-ADA era. We cannot be silent here. The Senate must hear from the disability community about the dangers of this nomination.”
AAPD urges other organizations as well as individuals to take action by educating yourself and others about Judge Kavanaugh’s record; and then contact your Senators to express your opposition and underscore the importance of health care and self-determination for all Americans with disabilities.
For a thorough review of disability-related cases involving Judge Brett Kavanaugh, please refer to this report by the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law.
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The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) is a convener, connector, and catalyst for change, increasing the political and economic power of people with disabilities. As a national cross-disability rights organization, AAPD advocates for full civil rights for the over 56 million Americans with disabilities.