Last night, the president announced his Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch. I won’t post the entire fact sheet, but you can download the Neil Gorsuch fact sheet, (pdf) and read for yourself. Below is the section on students with disabilities, including references to cases and opinions. Granted, the left isn’t exactly a paragon of disability rights. However, depriving students with disabilities of their rights under either IDEA or the ADA is just screwed up, and makes a Gorsuch appointment just about as bad as appointing Betsy DeVoss, except that Gorsuch will stay on the Supreme Court for decades. From the fact sheet:
Gorsuch would not protect the rights of disabled students
Contrary to an earlier decision by an impartial hearing officer, Judge Gorsuch held that a
student with autism did not have a right under the federal Individuals with Disabilities
Education Act (IDEA) to an education that would provide a chance to achieve intellectual
and social skills outside the classroom. This, even though Congress made clear that
?prepar[ing] [students] to lead productive and independent adult lives, to the maximum
extent possible” is a major goal of the IDEA. See Thompson R2-J Sch. Dist. v. Luke P., ex
rel. Jeff P., 540 F.3d 1143 (10th Cir. 2008).
Over a vigorous dissent, Judge Gorsuch authored the majority opinion in A.F. ex rel
Christine B. v. Española Pub. Sch., 801 F.3d 1245 (10th Cir. 2015), which held that a student
cannot, for technical reasons, assert a claim for violations of the Americans with Disabilities
Act if she had earlier settled with a school district for violations of the IDEA even though, as
Congress made clear, students have distinct rights under both laws.
Judge Gorsuch authored the majority opinion in Garcia v. Board of Education of
Albuquerque Public Schools, 520 F.3d 1116 (10th Cir. 2008), holding that even when a
school violates a student’s rights under the IDEA, the student may still be entitled to no
remedy for an IDEA violation if the student leaves the school out of frustration with the
school‘s continuous failure to follow the IDEA.
Supreme Court justices are confirmed by the senate. So, if you care about the rights of people with disabilities, (especially students), then if you’re not already ringing your congresscriters’ phones off the hook over some of these other nominees, now would be a good time to start.