My first week of work at the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law has been wonderful. Most of my work has centered on researching judicial nominees. This assignment helped me understand the judicial appointment process and the effects it can have on the rights of persons with disabilities.
As a law student I have learned about the role courts play in our system. Moreover, I have researched disability rights cases, decisions, and legislation. I have also looked at which circuits create enhanced protections for people with disabilities and which circuits have limited them. In my previous internship, I evaluated rights/protections created by the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act (ADAAA)and its corresponding regulations that had been curtailed by Supreme Court Decisions. However, in all of my work, I never really looked at the judicial nomination and appointment process. I never realized how important it is for the disability community to critically analyze and get involved with the judicial appointment process.
Right now, people with disabilities are protected from discrimination by a number of laws including the Rehabilitation Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and the recently amended ADAAA. Yes, these laws on paper are wonderful. But Judges are tasked with interpreting the law. Therefore, even if we have great laws our rights can be minimized by judicial decisions. Now I can see how important it is to see where judges stand on disability issues.
Thanks for reading!