Olmstead Turns 17 This Month!

Are you familiar with the story of the Olmstead decision?  It begins with two women, Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson.  They were diagnosed with developmental disabilities and mental illness, and had been voluntarily committed to a psychiatric unit at a state-run hospital.  After receiving treatment, each was cleared by mental health professionals to leave the facility and move to a community-based program; however, years after these determinations, they remained at the facility.  In 1995, the Atlanta Legal Aid Society filed suit on behalf of Curtis and Wilson against the Commissioner of Georgia’s Department of Human Resources (Tommy Olmstead) for release from the hospital.  They contended in their lawsuit that the failure of the state to provide the most integrated setting appropriate for their needs violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The case went to the Supreme Court, and on June 22, 1999, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Curtis and Wilson in a 6-3 decision authored by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  The Supreme Court found that the unjustified segregation of persons with disabilities constitutes discrimination.

For more information about Olmstead activity as reported by the U.S. Department of Justice, you can visit:  https://www.ada.gov/olmstead/

To learn more about Olmstead from the Disability Integration Project at the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Inc., which was founded by Sue Jamieson, the attorney who, along with her colleagues at the Atlanta Legal Aid brought Olmstead v. L.C., click here: http://www.olmsteadrights.org/about/