Celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Olmstead Supreme Court Decision!

Tomorrow, June 22 is the 20th anniversary of the Olmstead Supreme Court Decision, the decision that said that people with disabilities have the right to live in the least restrictive setting possible.  We are still working in Illinois to fulfill the promise of the Olmstead decision.  The Ligas Consent Decree was agreed upon in order to take steps forward to fulfill this promise and continues to apply pressure to a state that has dragged it feet.  Still we have more than 1600 people in state institutions and almost 7500 people actively waiting on a waiting list for services and 12,000 more needing services soon.   

As a community, the Arc of Illinois wants to celebrate Olmstead not just tomorrow but throughout this year with advocacy opportunities. 

Celebrate the Olmstead decision anniversary by speaking up with us:

  • Share HR410 – The House passed resolution HR410 supported by the Going Home Coalition honoring June 22.  Check it out here and forward!  
  • Call your state legislators to ask them to celebrate with you to honor the 20th anniversary by supporting funding for community living
  • Tell your story about community living on social media or share with nafia@thearcofil.org.
  • Tell us how you want Illinois to fulfill the promise of Olmstead by tweeting with the hashtag #Olmsteadpromise and posting on facebook tagging arcillinois, @arcillinois. 
  • Join upcoming legislative advocacy trainings – flier to be out soon by the Self-Advocacy Alliance and the Arc of Illinois

History from the ADA.Gov website

The story of the Olmstead case begins with two women, Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson, who had mental illness and developmental disabilities, and were voluntarily admitted to the psychiatric unit in the State-run Georgia Regional Hospital. Following the women’s medical treatment there, mental health professionals stated that each was ready to move to a community-based program. However, the women remained confined in the institution, each for several years after the initial treatment was concluded. They filed suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for release from the hospital.

The Decision

On June 22, 1999, the United States Supreme Court held in Olmstead v. L.C. that unjustified segregation of persons with disabilities constitutes discrimination in violation of title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Court held that public entities must provide community-based services to persons with disabilities when (1) such services are appropriate; (2) the affected persons do not oppose community-based treatment; and (3) community-based services can be reasonably accommodated.

The Supreme Court explained that its holding “reflects two evident judgments.” First, “institutional placement of persons who can handle and benefit from community settings perpetuates unwarranted assumptions that persons so isolated are incapable of or unworthy of participating in community life.” Second, “confinement in an institution severely diminishes the everyday life activities of individuals, including family relations, social contacts, work options, economic independence, educational advancement, and cultural enrichment.”https://www.ada.gov/olmstead/olmstead_about.htm

Department of Justice statement on the anniversary.

Good summary by Disability Justice.