Nancy Mairs on Disability in the Media Essay — Klon
Representing Disability in an Ableist World: Essays on Mass Media
Rather than criticizing advertizing for denigrating people with disabilities,this essay proposes that because advertisers hope to sell their products, andmust comply with truth in advertising laws, their representations are superiorto others.
result of the misrepresentation of disability in the media, ..
The civil rights protection of the 1990 ADA receives the most media attention because it is the most comprehensive federal disability rights law. That it is being chipped away is apparent in a significant number of Supreme Court decisions. The Court has narrowed the definition of disability and has elevated the "new federalism" by expanding the concept of "sovereign immunity," commonly known as "states' rights." In University of Alabama v. Garrett (2001), the Supreme Court found that there is insufficient evidence of disability discrimination to justify applying the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In the majority opinion, this clause, which is historically invoked to ensure civil rights for protected classes, is trumped by the sovereign immunity embodied in the Eleventh Amendment, which prevents individuals from suing states for money damages without the state's permission. Thus the merits of the case of cancer survivor, Patricia Garrett (or the joined case of Milton Ash, who has asthma), were not even considered. Dismissing Justice Stephen Breyer's citation of more than three hundred examples of disability discrimination as merely anecdotal, the Court decided that such discrimination was not so flagrant as to abrogate sovereign immunity. A similar argument, to elevate states' rights above federal law, was employed in the past to maintain racial discrimination. "Jim Crow" laws were countered by uniform federal legislation. By regressing to an earlier model that protected racial discrimination, the Court now protects disability discrimination. Some disability advocates argue that this new elevation of states' rights reveals that the recent Supreme Court is an activist Court with a radical right agenda-- a Court that is usurping the role of a coequal branch, the Congress of the United States.