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Attorney General Josh Stein Defends Protections For People with Disabilities

For Immediate Release:
Monday, September 13, 2021

Nazneen Ahmed (919) 716-0060

(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today called on the U.S. Supreme Court to preserve critical legal tools that help fight discrimination against people with disabilities.

“People with disabilities have the right to be included in every part of our society,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “I’m filing this brief to protect the legal tools needed to fight discrimination and to build a safer, more inclusive nation for every person.”

Attorney General Stein and a coalition of 18 attorneys general today filed a friend-of-the-court brief in CVS Pharmacy v. Doe, a case concerning whether a health plan is discriminating against HIV-positive people by limiting where they can obtain medication for in-network prices. While the attorneys general do not take a position on the precise outcome of this case or support either party, they urge the Supreme Court to preserve the existing standard for challenges to public programs that have the effect of discriminating against people with disabilities, even if there was no intent to disadvantage these people.

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was passed to help people with disabilities integrate into American life. Section 504 of the law prohibits discrimination based on disability in programs or activities receiving federal funds and authorizes legal challenges to discriminatory policies. In an earlier Supreme Court decision, the court explained that under Section 504, people with disabilities must have “meaningful access” to a particular government benefit or program. Over the past 35 years, this standard has become a key part of American law and has enabled challenges to policies that have a discriminatory effect on individuals with disabilities, even when the programs are not intentionally discriminatory.

The coalition argues that the standard is necessary to break down unintentional barriers to full participation by people with disabilities, that states have relied on this legal standard to combat disability discrimination for decades, and that Congress intended the Rehabilitation Act to ensure meaningful inclusion of people with disabilities.

Attorney General Stein was joined in filing today’s brief by the Attorneys General of California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia.

A copy of the brief is available here.


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