DOJ to Intevene in Texas Developmental Disability Segregation Case

According to a press release by the US Department of Justice, the Justice Department today filed papers seeking to intervene in a case filed on behalf of thousands of Texans with developmental disabilities to enforce their right under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to receive services provided by the state in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs.

The proposed complaint in by the United States, which must first be approved for filing in the Steward, et al. v. Perry, et al. case by the U.S. District Court in San Antonio, alleges that Texas unnecessarily segregates individuals with developmental disabilities in nursing homes instead of providing them the opportunity to receive integrated, community-based services. The proposed complaint also alleges that Texas places individuals with developmental disabilities who currently live in the community at risk of unnecessary placement in nursing facilities by failing to provide necessary community-based services in violation of the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

“Individuals with disabilities have a right to access appropriate community-based services, and the administration is committed to helping them do so,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “For the Department of Justice, this suit presents an opportunity to turn the promise of the Olmstead decision into a reality for individuals with developmental disabilities confined to nursing facilities in Texas.”

The Justice Department’s filing in Texas comes on the 12th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead v. L.C., which held that the ADA requires public entities to provide community-based services to persons with disabilities when such services are appropriate; the affected persons do not oppose community-based treatment; and community-based services can be reasonably accommodated.    The filing is part of the department’s continuing effort to enforce civil rights laws that require states to ensure that individuals with disabilities are served in the most integrated setting appropriate to meet their needs.  The Justice Department has intervened, brought suit, or filed amicus briefs in support of Olmstead enforcement in 17 different states over the past two years.

6/24/11 update:

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