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The U.S. Supreme Court case of Olmtead v. L. C. (1999) established that unnecessary segregation of persons with mental disabilities constitutes discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). The landmark case was brought by two women with mental and intellectual disabilities who had been voluntarily admitted to a state psychiatric hospital in Georgia. Their mental conditions stabilized in the hospital. Although the women’s treatment providers concluded that their needs could be met appropriately in community-based treatment programs, the state continued their confinement in the segregated institutional environment. The women claimed that the state’s failure to place them in community programs violated Title II of the ADA.

In the ADA, Congress recognized the historical discrimination of persons with disabilities, including segregation and institutionalization. Title ...

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