Meaningful Access and Disability Discrimination: The Role of Social Science and Other Empirical Evidence

20 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2017 Last revised: 24 Jan 2018

See all articles by Mark C. Weber

Mark C. Weber

DePaul University College of Law

Date Written: August 1, 2017

Abstract

In cases alleging disability discrimination in the provision of state and local government services, courts frequently hold that plaintiffs’ claims depend on the question whether, despite the disadvantage that government actions impose, the plaintiffs nevertheless receive meaningful access to the government services. Whether people with disabilities actually have meaningful access is in reality a factual question, one on which social science and other empirically supported facts should matter. But courts frequently ignore evidence about the nature and level of access that people with disabilities have to government programs when decisions regarding those programs are being challenged. This essay catalogues judicial decisions that bypass, or conversely, engage in the empirical inquiry. The essay considers several types of cases, including those concerning limits on government medical assistance, an issue of particular salience in the current political climate. The essay draws the conclusion that the better reasoned decisions are those that take social science and other relevant evidence seriously in determining whether meaningful access is afforded.

Keywords: Disability, disability discrimination, Medicaid, Americans with Disabilities Act

JEL Classification: I13, I14, I18, I31, I38, J71

Suggested Citation

Weber, Mark C., Meaningful Access and Disability Discrimination: The Role of Social Science and Other Empirical Evidence (August 1, 2017). 39 Cardozo Law Review 649 (2017), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3012118

Mark C. Weber (Contact Author)

DePaul University College of Law ( email )

25 E. Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL Cook County 60604-2287
United States
312-362-8808 (Phone)
312-362-5448 (Fax)

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