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Disability Discrimination: U.S. Supreme Court Cases

Society’s treatment of individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities has evolved over time, reflecting changes in the beliefs people hold about the nature of these disabilities. Although these beliefs varied over time, their commonality has been the conviction that people with disabilities form a homogeneous group, one that is defective, often both physically and morally, and potentially dangerous. Inevitably, such convictions resulted in various forms of discriminatory treatment, many of which were authorized by law.

The constitutionality of these laws was challenged through litigation, usually initiated and conducted by organizations created to fight discrimination. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on a range of civil and criminal cases on the rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Civil law cases included, but were not limited ...

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