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Scrutiny for Supreme Court Pick Fails to Focus on Rights of Disabled


Scrutiny for Supreme Court Pick Fails to Focus on Rights of Disabled

Janine Jackson

Since Donald Trump announced Neil Gorsuch as his nominee for the Supreme Court, media have coalesced around a few themes: One is about whether any Trump appointment should be blocked as payback to Republicans, as expressed in a New York Times headline (2/13/17): “Democrats’ Quandary on Gorsuch: Appease the Base or Honor the Process.” Spoiler: The paper thinks the real strain is on “those in the middle.”


At the risk of veering further off topic (interesting that you should complain that disability rights don't draw eyeballs, and say nothing more about anyone with a disability), may I say that I've seen and heard multiple stories in quite mainstream media (my usuals are NPR, BBC, and [MS]NBC) on all 3 of the topics you asked about.

And I would suggest that you not wait until Tuesday to call your Member's DC office, but go show up at his District office(s) if you are at all able. Plenty of ways to be in touch, with or without a large public meeting.

The problem with calling attention to disability rights is that the disabilities are so diverse. Grace Hwang's need, as noted in the article, was quite temporary — while her immune system was recovering, while the flu raged through the University community. For some of us, they may be permanent but not obvious unless we wrestle the walker out of the trunk instead of leaning on a grocery cart like the person who keeps us vertical through 30 items in the express checkout. The reporter mocked by djt on the campaign trail looks more disabled than I do, but doesn't appear to be attempting to draw benefits, as his disability doesn't affect his work; in fact, he attained his career while disabled, while my invisible disability ended my career (mostly; I still try). Other than my struggles with SSA, my most recent challenge was just overnight, when a hotel where I'd booked to help care for my grown child (during acute recovery from ENabling surgery) met the letter of the law (ADA) by providing two reserved parking spaces. But those were at the far end of the parking lot and one wing of the building, near an entrance restricted to those who already had key cards (and in fact could not be negotiated in a wheelchair). The freezing, windy night I checked in, the half of the parking lot nearest the registration desk and what turned out to be my room, which did include 2 more reserved parking spaces, was closed off with tape, having been repainted. It was a long, hard walk in to register and back out to get my luggage.

I don't tell this little story to whine, or certainly to excuse Judge Gorsuch's ruling against Hwang. I tell it to say that the conditions of Americans with disabilities are almost as diverse as the conditions of humanity, and the need for consideration may change moment by moment. The courts deal with the law. I call on you, my fellow Americans of diverse abilities, to pay attention and have some compassion, whether you see a disability in the next person or not.


Thank you, and as many know, many disabilities are "invisible" such as learning disabilities. Thank you for your courage.


It's only the courage to survive.