The ADA Litigation Monster
A landmark law to protect the disabled has spawned senseless mandates, abusive lawsuits, and stratospheric costs.
The Americans with Disabilities Act, which President George H. W. Bush signed into law in 1990, was noble in intention. “Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down,” Bush declared, invoking the rhetoric of civil rights to describe America’s disabled as “victims of segregation and discrimination.” Bush dismissed opponents’ “fears that the ADA is too vague or too costly and will lead to an explosion of litigation”; the statute, he assured, was “carefully crafted” to provide clear guidance to the business community.
Hindsight reckons otherwise. The ADA’s laudable objectives were to ban employment discrimination against the disabled and eliminate unnecessary physical barriers to access in commercial and government buildings. But in the ensuing quarter-century, the measure has spawned countless unintended consequences—mutating definitions of what constitutes a physical or mental “disability,” senseless mandates, abusive litigation, and astronomical compliance costs. Having vanquished common sense in the workplace and unleashed greedy trial lawyers to sue unsuspecting firms for “accessibility” violations, the ADA’s next—and potentially most destructive—campaign is “fixing” e-commerce, which few people think is broken.
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