The Olmstead Decision
What is the Olmstead decision all about?
Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson lived in a state psychiatric hospital in Georgia. The women wanted to live in the community, and the state’s treatment professionals agreed that discharge to the community would be appropriate. However, the state of Georgia refused to provide the women with community-based services. The women took their case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
What did the U.S. Supreme Court say?
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed with Lois and Elaine! The Court said that the unnecessary institutionalization of people with disabilities constitutes discrimination and violates Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Does this mean that all people with disabilities have the right to live in the community?
The Court said that people with disabilities have the right to live in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs as long as community placement is not opposed by the affected individual, the community placement is supported by the state’s treatment professional and placing the affected individual in the community would not “fundamentally alter” the state’s provision of services.
Does the Olmstead decision only affect people with mental health disabilities?
No. The U.S. Supreme Court interpreted Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which applies to all people of all ages with disabilities.
Does the Olmstead decision apply to senior citizens?
The Olmstead decision applies to all qualified individuals with disabilities regardless of age.
You can contact one of the following Independent Living Centers, whose goal is to assist individuals with disabilities to achieve their maximum potential within their families and communities. The following Independent Living Centers are part of a Statewide Consortium, which was one of the recipients of a Real Choice Systems Change Grant awarded by the New York State Department of Health. Please contact the Independent Living Centers directly for more information about the Olmstead Decision and the right to live in the community.