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Tag Archives: ADA

Who is the Supreme Court’s first disabled justice?

When Justice Sonia Sotomayor won confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court, much was made of the fact that she was the first Latina to sit on the bench. Likewise, the confirmation of Justice Elena Kagan marked the first time the Court featured three women.

But now the Obama administration, in touting its judicial appointment record, is hailing another judicial milestone: the confirmation of the first disabled justice on the Court.

That sent some Court watchers and writers momentarily scratching their heads and asking who that justice might be. Sure, a few of the justices wear glasses, and Sotomayor has been seen sporting a cast or brace on her ankle or knee, but those were due to injuries she suffered, not a permanent disability.

But Sotomayor does fall within the definition of disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act because the justice is a diabetic. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as a child.

The disease has clearly not held Sotomayor back, causing some like New York magazine’s Dan Amira to question whether it “substantially limits one or more of a [her] major life activities” under the ADA. But under the 2008 ADA Amendments Act, that is no longer necessary. Diabetes fits the bill because it “substantially limits endocrine function.

New ADA service animal regs don’t monkey around

Those claiming that their pet monkeys, reptiles or ferrets are service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act should take heed of new regulations set to go into effect soon.

Those regs, issued last year but delayed until the Obama administration could get its Justice Department Civil Rights Division fully in place, are set to be enforced by the end of the year.

The new clarified standards bar rabbits, farm animals, ferrets, rodents, amphibians, and wild animals – including monkeys or any other primate born in captivity – from being used as service animals.

Even Fifi, your lovable Bichon Frise, won’t qualify unless she has been individually and specifically trained “do work or perform tasks for the benefit of individuals with disabilities” under the Act, such as retrieving a phone or medication, assisting during a seizure, providing physical support or navigation assistance. Just being cute won’t cut it. “[A]nimals whose sole function is to provide emotional support, comfort, therapy, companionship, therapeutic benefits, or promote emotional well-being are not service animals.” Sorry, Fifi.

More here from The Seattle Times.