THE OLMSTEAD DECISION: AN OVERVIEW
The Olmstead lawsuit originated in Georgia with Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson. These two women, who had been diagnosed with mental health conditions and intellectual disabilities, were repeatedly sent to state hospitals because they were unable to obtain supports in their community. Sue Jamieson, an attorney from the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, filed a lawsuit on behalf of Curtis and Wilson for community-based supports to be provided. The case reached the Supreme Court, which found that, under the Americans With Disabilities Act, "unjustified segregation" or requiring people to receive services in a setting that is isolated or separated from the community, was discrimination against persons with disabilities. The Court held that people with disabilities have a right to receive state-funded supports and services in their communities if a three-part test is met:
1. Professionals determine community supports are appropriate for the individual.
2. The individual is not opposed to receiving the community supports.
3. Community-based supports can be reasonably accommodated when other individuals in similar situations and available resources are taken into consideration.
"In sum, we conclude that Title II of the ADA requires States to provide community based treatment for persons with mental disabilities, when the State's treatment professionals have determined that such placement is appropriate, when the affected persons do not oppose such treatment, and when the placement can be reasonably accommodated taking into account the resources available to the State and the needs of others with mental disabilities."
- Justice Ginsburg,
Olmstead v. L. C.
OLMSTEAD: FROM THE CASE TOWARD REAL TRANSFORMATION
The 30-minute video below tells the story of the litigation of this case by Atlanta Legal Aid Society with support from ADAPT and other disability organizations. It goes on to explain the after effects of the decision and the changes that followed the United States Justice Department's embrace of Olmstead.
After the Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision in 1999, Disability Rights Nebraska urged the state to develop an “Olmstead Plan”. For 17 years, we worked to bring the Governor’s office, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Legislature to an understanding that this was the right thing to do. In 2016, LB 1033 was passed, requiring the Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services to "develop a comprehensive, effective working plan for placing qualified persons with disabilities in the most integrated community-based service settings." Additionally, LB 1033 created a stakeholder advisory committee to assist in the plan's development. The Olmstead in Nebraska webpage provides more information on the implementation of an Olmstead plan in Nebraska.