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ADA Foe Jeffrey Sutton Confirmed For Appeals Court Position
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 30, 2003

WASHINGTON, DC--By a 52-41 vote, the Senate on Tuesday confirmed Jeffrey Sutton for a seat on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Disability rights advocates that fought to keep Sutton from the important post were disappointed in the outcome of the vote. About 150 activists crowded into a room at the U.S. Capitol earlier in the day to urge lawmakers to vote against Sutton's appointment.

"I need you out there reminding every senator who you see . . . a vote for Jeffrey Sutton is a vote to undo the Americans with Disability Act," Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, told the crowd before the vote.

Sutton, a former state solicitor general from Columbus, Ohio, has a history of arguing against people's rights in court cases. Most notable for disability rights was when he represented the State of Alabama in a U.S. Supreme Court case against Patricia Garrett in 2000. The court agreed with Sutton in that case when ruling that state employees with disabilities cannot sue their employers for damages under the ADA.

Sutton has insisted that he was just doing his job. Others note that he has gone beyond the job to attack civil rights.

In the 1999 Supreme Court case Olmstead vs. L.C. and E.W., Sutton filed a brief supporting the state of Georgia, claiming states did not have to provide services in the community for people with mental illness or mental retardation. The Supreme Court disagreed with his position and ruled that unnecessary institutionalization is a form of discrimination prohibited by the ADA.

"He has sought to weaken, among other laws, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Violence Against Women Act, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act," Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, told his colleagues before the vote. "His extreme judicial philosophy would undermine the rights of state workers, disabled individuals, women, children, racial and ethnic minorities, and older Americans."

According to ADA Watch, more than 400 national, state, and local disability and civil rights organizations were aligned in opposition to Sutton's appointment. "Sutton is a nationally recognized leader of the 'states' rights' movement which has targeted the New Deal, the Great Society, Medicaid, the ADA, Olmstead, and the authority of a democratically elected Congress to legislate remedies when petitioned by American citizens," ADA Watch said in a press release early Tuesday.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals handles appeals from Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Michigan. It is the last stop before the Supreme Court for cases in these states.

"On The Nomination Of Jeffrey S. Sutton To The U.S. Court Of Appeals For The Sixth Circuit" (Senator Patrick Leahy)


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