Rights – Senate Confirms Neil Gorsuch as Supreme Court Associate Justice

On April 7, the Senate confirmed Judge Neil Gorsuch as Associate Justice by a vote of 54-45. This followed the invocation of “cloture” or forcing an end to unlimited debate. Traditionally, this requires 60 votes. However, the Senate invoked the “nuclear option” which allows reinterpretation of the rules by a simple majority vote (51 votes) to change the vote required for cloture on Supreme Court nominees to a simple majority. Issues important to people with disabilities often come before the U.S. Supreme Court. They span such important concerns as rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the right to fair, non-discriminatory treatment in health care settings, and the death penalty.

Civil Rights – The Arc Issues Statement on Leaked Draft Executive Order

In light of a recently leaked draft Executive Order that would impact people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) who are legally residing in the United States as well as people with I/DD who are hoping to legally immigrate, The Arc released a statement:

“We are facing a civil rights crisis in our nation and people with disabilities are in the crosshairs with the latest draft Executive Order being circulated in the White House. The Executive Order, if finalized and signed by the President, would discriminate against immigrants with disabilities, making it harder to legally enter or remain in the country. To deport individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are in our country legally or prevent them from immigrating, goes against the values of our nation.”

Read the full statement on The Arc’s blog.

Rights – Senate Committee Approves Nominee for Attorney General

On February 1, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to favorably report the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to be Attorney General. The Attorney General is a cabinet level position in charge of the Department of Justice, which is responsible for enforcing federal civil rights laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act. Visit the Committee web site for more information or to view archived video of the hearing.

Education – Senate Committee Schedules Vote on DeVos Nomination

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) for Attorney General on January 31. The Attorney General is a cabinet level position in charge of the Department of Justice, which is responsible for enforcing federal civil rights laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act. Visit the Committee web site for more information or to access live video the day of the hearing.

On December 28, 2016, the U.S. Department of Education released three new sets of guidance packages to assist the public in understanding how the Department interprets and enforces federal civil rights laws protecting the rights of students with disabilities:

Employment/Rights – Final Affirmative Action Rule for People with Disabilities Issued

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued its final rule to amend the regulations that require federal agencies to engage in affirmative action for individuals with disabilities. These changes clarify the obligations that the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 imposes on federal agencies as employers that are over and above the obligation to not discriminate on the basis of disability. The regulation does not apply to the private sector or to state or local governments. This final rule will be effective on March 6, 2017.

Rights – Senate to Hold Confirmation Hearing for Attorney General Nominee

On January 10, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to be the Attorney General. The Attorney General is a cabinet level position in charge of the Department of Justice, which is responsible for enforcing federal civil rights laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act. Visit the Committee web site for more information or to access live video the day of the hearing.

Rights – Election Assistance Commission Seeks Feedback from Voters With Disabilities

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) is gathering feedback from voters with disabilities about their experiences during the election. Sharing experiences will help the EAC take stock of the 2016 election process, determine what went well, and identify areas for continued improvement to ensure that all people with disabilities are able to vote privately and independently. Please send an email to listen@eac.gov to share your story. All positive and negative feedback is welcome and encouraged.

Rights – Department of Justice Provides Technical Assistance on Polling Place Accessibility

The Department of Justice has issued a technical assistance document instructing states on how to ensure that people with disabilities have access to polling places. The document is not a formal legal interpretation, but does provide advice on how to remedy certain accessibility barriers. It contains a checklist written to be understandable by people who do not have technical expertise.