Supreme Court decision in Olmstead: People with disabilities matter

This month marks the 25th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision, a case that was a watershed moment in the lives of Americans with disabilities.

For some, the 6-3 decision marked the end of forced, “unjustified institutionalization” of people with disabilities. For some, it meant this and much more. It was about dignity. They talked about civil and human rights. It was about personal choice – a recognition that disabled people – like all people everywhere – should be able to choose “where” and “how” to live their lives.

Taken together, the Olmstead decision was a long-overdue affirmation from the nation’s highest court that people with disabilities matter. What they need matters. What they want matters. What they say matters.

The U.S. Supreme Court Building in Washington, U.S., May 20, 2024. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

In the same spirit, it is the responsibility of all of us working in the disability community, especially those in government, to ensure that the voice of disabled people is at the heart of everything we do – every policy, every decision, every practice. To this end, long overdue steps need to be taken to make this happen – the commonsense, practical steps suggested in our previous annual reports: