On June 22, 1999, US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg delivered what has become known as the “Olmstead Decision“. Olmstead v. LC is regarded as one of the most important civil rights case for people with disabilities. Drawing from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Supreme Court held that people with disabilities have a qualified right to live in the community of their choosing and that states must eliminate the unnecessary segregation of persons with disabilities.
This landmark decision set sweeping precedent across the country that made it clear that a person with a disability has a fundamental right, when appropriate, to receive state-funded supports and services in their own community rather than institutions. In 2009, the Justice Department expanded its Civil Rights division and made Olmstead a priority through enforcement.
The Olmstead decision reached Minnesota in 2011 when a settlement from litigation required the development of the Minnesota Olmstead Plan, which was approved by the Court in August 2015. The plan recognized that Minnesotans with disabilities want to make informed choices about their lives and want to reside in the integrated setting of their choosing. The Minnesota Olmstead Plan called for expanding integrated housing, employment, and education options for people with disabilities.
On the 19th anniversary of the Olmstead Decision, the Minnesota Council on Disability celebrates the progress made in civil rights for people with disabilities. We honor the plaintiffs of Olmstead v. LC, Louis Curtis and Elaine Wilson, who had mental health disabilities and demanded equality under the law and the freedom to choose.
We reaffirm our commitment to work with the State of Minnesota to successfully implement the State’s Olmstead Plan and bring justice and equality to Minnesotans with disabilities.
Finally, we pledge to continue advocating for the civil rights and inclusion of people with disabilities, as well as for a world free from discrimination.
A Call to Action
The Center for Public Representation (CPR) invites people to participate in a national call-in day on June 22 to urge Congress to fund the Money Follows the Person program and to cosponsor the EMPOWER Care Act. The EMPOWER Care Act funds Olmstead activities in many states.