By Anonymous (not verified) on June 21, 2009

June 22 marks the 10th anniversary of a landmark ruling for people with disabilities.

The case, which reinforced the Americans with Disabilities Act, was called Olmstead v. LC and EW.

LC was Lois Curtis and EW was Elaine Wilson. These two women had spent most of their lives in state mental institutions.

They wanted to live in more integrated community settings, and their doctors said they didn?t need to be institutionalized. But their home state of Georgia provided no community options for them, and so they languished in the institutions.

In 1995, lawyers sued the state on their behalf under the ADA, which requires states to provide services for people with disabilities in the most integrated setting appropriate. The case worked its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that such needless, unending institutionalization did indeed violate the very core of the ADA.

Curtis and Wilson finally moved into smaller group community homes, where they flourished. Wilson died in 2005 but Curtis continues to live in the community and travel the country. She serves as an ambassador for freedom and choice for people with disabilities, especially those in institutions.

The Olmstead decision said that states must show steady progress in providing alternatives to institutions or they would be open to similar litigation.

Lawyers and activists all over the country have used the Olmstead precedent to challenge cruel and unfair state policies. As a result, people with disabilities have expanded their options, and some of the worst institutions have been closed.

But many states, such as Florida, Illinois and Tennessee, have spent a lot of taxpayer money fighting against Olmstead lawsuits long after the Supreme Court spoke. Earlier this year, Illinois finally reached agreement with plaintiffs in an Olmstead lawsuit that has dragged on for years.

Curtis and Wilson and the lawyers that guided them are heroes. Because of them, the ADA is the strong law it was intended to be.

This June 22, many people with disabilities should be celebrating the 10th anniversary of our independence day.

Mike Ervin is a Chicago-based writer and a disability-rights activist with ADAPT (www.adapt.org). He can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).


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