NCD Report: 1990 Congress Defined Disability More Broadly Than Supreme Court
December 18, 2002
WASHINGTON, DC--Rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court have narrowed the definition of disability beyond what Congress intended when it passed the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.
That's the conclusion of the National Council on Disability's (NCD) fourth installment in its Americans with Disabilities Act Policy Brief Series: Righting the ADA, released Monday.
"Broad or Narrow Construction of the ADA" looked at the language and history of the ADA, along with the legal principles that were in place when Congress passed it. The purpose of the brief was "to determine what information can be found regarding how narrowly or broadly Congress intended the definition of disability in the ADA to be construed, and to ascertain whether the Supreme Court's narrow construction of the definition is consistent with or antagonistic to the statutory language, legislative history, and previously recognized legal principles".
The paper concluded that the Supreme Court's recent rulings that narrowly define disability go against indications that the ADA was intended to provide protections based on much broader definitions. The paper also suggested that Congress was entitled to expect the definition of disability to be read much more liberally than the Court has done.