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Our thanks to the San Diego Democrats for Disability Rights for compiling this information.

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A Summary of Actions Taken by President G.W. Bush,
the Republican Party & the Supreme Court
Americans with Disabilities & Seniors

(…or a 1,001 reasons to vote Democrat... and counting)

Menu of Presidential, Republican & Judicial Opposition to Americans with Disabilities & Seniors

Cabinet & Administrative Appointments

Judicial Appointments

Budget Cuts

Supreme Court Decisions

Legislative Action

Cabinet & Administrative Appointments

  • Interior Secretary Gale Norton, appointed by President Bush who threatened to sue the federal government for forcing Colorado to add a wheelchair ramp to the statehouse.

  • Linda Chavez, Bush's first selection for Secretary of Labor, who said the ADA was "special treatment in the name of accommodating the disabled."

  • Eugene Scalia, the Solicitor at the Department of Labor (also a recess appointment) who had a large portfolio from big businesses against the ADA appointed by President Bush.

  • Gerald Reynolds, a recess appointment by President Bush to the Office of Civil Rights at the Dept. of Education who told the U.S. Civil Rights Commission that the ADA is one of the "statutes and regulations (that) are going to retard economic development in urban centers across the country." (April 5, 1997)

  • Sidney Taurel of Indiana was appointed by President Bush June 11, 2002 to serve as a member of the President's Homeland Security Advisory Council. Taurel was and continues to be the Chairman, President and CEO of Eli Lilly and Company. He joined the Lilly subsidiary Eli Lilly International Corporation in 1971, and has held various positions Brazil, France, Easter Europe and London. In 1986, he became President of Eli Lilly International Corporation and then Executive Vice President of the Pharmaceutical Division in 1991. This appointment is directly related to provisions affecting persons with disabilities included in the Homeland Security Act signed into law by President Bush, November 25, 2002 indicated below. (See also Whitehouse News Release, June 11, 2002 and provisions of the Homeland Security Act below).


Judicial Appointments

  • Jeffrey Sutton, an Ohio lawyer nominated to a lifetime position on the 6th Circuit of Appeals who challenged the ADA on behalf of the University of Alabama and won, thus weakening the ADA. More than 400 disability organizations united in opposition to Mr. Sutton's nomination, but the Republican controlled Senate prevailed and confirmed Mr. Sutton to a judicial lifetime position.

  • D. Brooks Smith, a conservative activist nominated by President Bush to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, completely disregarded evidence of horrific abuse and neglect of people with disabilities, by dismissing charges against Pennsylvania institutions.

  • William Pryor, the Alabama Attorney General was appointed by President Bush to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit without Senate approval Friday, February 20, 2004 timed to avoid public attention. Pryor urged the Supreme Court to hold that, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, state employees cannot sue for damages to protect their rights against discrimination.


Budget Cuts

  • For 2005, President Bush proposed cutting "Total Grants to States for Medicaid" by 3.6%

  • President Bush cut "Housing for persons with disabilities" by $1 million and housing for the elderly by $1 million.

  • President Bush increased spending at NIH only 2.7%, and increases funding for the NIMH by only 2.2%.

  • President Bush proposed level funding for the Section 811 housing program, which represents a cut in real terms.

  • President Bush proposed to reduce overall funding for the Section 8 voucher program by $1.66 billion.

  • February 2004, the U.S. Education Department cut the money for captioning nearly 200 TV programs, citing a 1997 mandate from Congress only to pay for captioning of "educational, news and informational" programming.

  • IDEA is still substantially underfunded with Congress funding only 15% of the program after promising to fund 40%.

  • President Bush proposed a serious unconstitutional limit on domestic social discretionary and mandatory spending that requires a 3/5 majority of the Senate to override any low spending limits on discretionary spending and no growth in mandatory spending.

  • President Bush would allow OMB to unilaterally impose cuts and limits if Congress did muster the 3/5 vote removing spending authority from Congress and placing it with the Executive Branch.

  • February 3, 2004, President Bush announced a budget proposal to eliminate $38 million for projects to provide employment services to people with disabilities despite an unemployment rate exceeding 50% for Americans with Disabilities over the last 20 years.

  • President Bush cuts by more than two-thirds a proposal to help states transition patients out of long-term care institutions and into community- and home-based care settings. The Money Follows the Individual Rebalancing Demonstration was proposed by the president last year with $350 million for fiscal year 2004, and a total of $1.75 billion over five years ending in FY 2008.


Supreme Court Decisions

January 2001 - March 2003

The Justice Department filed at least four "Amicus Briefs" in favor of ADA offending companies and a municipality, and against people with disabilities (See below: Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. v. Williams; Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Echazabal; Barnes v. Gorman; and Clackamas Gastroenterology Associates, P.C. v. Wells).

January 8, 2002, Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. v. Williams

January 8, 2002, the Supreme Court ruled, "It is insufficient for individuals attempting to prove disability status under this test to merely submit evidence of a medical diagnosis of an impairment. Instead, the ADA requires them to offer evidence that the extent of the limitation caused by their impairment in terms of their own experience is substantial." In short, the Supreme Court ruled against Ella Williams because although impaired, she can "still brush her teeth, wash her face, bathe...!"

June 10, 2002, Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. Echazabal

The court ruled 9-0 that employers do not have to hire a person with a disability if they believe that person's health or safety would be put at risk by performing the job.

Barnes v. Gorman

The U.S. Supreme Court declared that persons excluded by local governments from programs funded with federal dollars may not receive punitive damages, no matter how egregious the discrimination that they have suffered. The Barnes decision denies victims of discrimination a powerful tool to combat and deter entrenched resistance to compliance with federal laws.

Clackamas Gastroenterology Associates, P.C. v. Wells

In its 7-2 decision, the high court said that the company was too small to be covered under the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act because its owners could not be considered as employees.


Legislative Action

November 25, 2002

President Bush signed the Homeland Security Act of 2002 into law that includes provisions (Sections 1714-1716) authored by Majority Leader and Texas Republican Dick Armey. These provisions prohibit families from suing pharmaceutical companies (namely Eli Lilly) for faulty vaccinations — including those containing thimerosal, (a highly toxic organic mercury-based preservative that has been widely used in the combined mumps, measles, and rubella vaccine). Mounting evidence and independent research has exposed a probable link between thimerosal and autism. Eli Lilly is the single largest producer of vaccines that contain the preservative thimerosal. (Note: To understand how these provisions got into the Homeland Security Act go to the presidential appointment of Sydney Taurel above or the Whitehouse News Release, June 11, 2002).

Other Connections to the Pharmaceutical Industry:

Former President, George Herbert Walker Bush, served on Eli Lilly's board of directors.

Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld served as the CEO of G.D. Searle, a pharmaceutical company that’s now a subsidiary of Pharmacia.

Attorney General, John Ashcroft sponsored a bill that extended the patent on Schering-Plough’s ultra-profitable allergy pill, Claritin. Extending the patent, that expired in 2002, would save the company billions of dollars in potential revenue. The bill died in committee, but Schering-Plough still gave Ashcroft $50,000 for his failed 2000 Senate bid. Schering-Plough donated the money to Ashcroft’s joint fundraising committee, which Ashcroft set up with the National Republican Senatorial Committee to encourage unlimited soft money contributions from corporations that could not legally contribute to his main campaign committee.

Health and Human Services Secretary, Tommy G. Thompson, was forced to sell his stock in drugmakers Merck and Abbott Laboratories once he was confirmed as health and human services secretary.

Former Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Mitch Daniels, worked at Eli Lilly as a senior vice president.

March 6, 2003

Republican Rep. Mark Foley introduced H.R. 728 known as the ADA Notification Act strongly supported by none other than Mr. "Make My Day" Clint Eastwood. This would weaken ADA enforcement. It was cosponsored by 58 other Republicans and no Democrats. This bill remains in committee since March 2003 but continues to be a threat to access by persons with disabilities.

December 8, 2003

President Bush signs the Medicare Prescription Drug Modernization Act that...

  • Offers a program for a drug discount card that are not required

  • Provides no grace period for people to sign up and change their minds

  • Allows drug companies to determine what drugs have discounts, and how much seniors pay

  • Allows private companies to change the drugs they cover and the discounts they have promised weekly

  • Prohibits the government from negotiating for lower prices

  • Favors special interests not seniors

  • Pushes seniors into HMOs

  • Has an annual fee

  • Requires seniors and people with disabilities to sign up for one and only one card

  • Persons who do sign up are locked into that card for one year even if another card may offer better discounts

  • Does not guarantee lowered drug costs and in fact an independent GAO analysis concluded that drug costs after the discount is applied often exceed drug costs after discount cards are applied that are now offered currently by many chain drug stores (e.g.,,, Walgreens)

  • Companies offering cards can collect and use seniors' private medical information to prepare for even bigger profits in 2006.

While this bill was supported by the AARP (William D. Novelli, Executive Director and CEO of AARP who wrote the "Preface" to the book entitled Saving Lives & Saving Money authored by none other than Newt Gingrich) and is a thinly veiled attempt to privatize Medicare, it was opposed by numerous organizations including but not limited to the League of Women Voters, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Congressman Henry Waxman, National Organization of Women, SEIU Local 616, Alliance for Retired Americans, National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS), American Pharmaceutical Association (APhA), National Retiree Legislative Network, and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare to name a few.

For the Truth about the Medicare Prescription Drug Modernization Act,
click on the links below:, Drug Discount Cards

Summary: New Medicare Drug Cards Offer Few Discounts (requires Adobe Reader; includes a chart comparing drug costs after discounts are applied for the new Medicare program (RxSavings and Pharmacy Care Alliance) compared to existing discount programs offered by Walgreens,, and showing that existing discount cards offer greater savings than the medicare drug cards.

Committee on Government Reform Minority Group: Prescription Drugs

2002 News Releases. Nations Pharmacies Respond to the Medicare Modernization and Prescription Drug Act of 2002, June 17, 2002.

United Federation of Teachers

National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare

Assaults on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the IDEA reauthorization bill (H.R. 1350) in 2003, even after every major parent and teacher group opposed it. The bill includes revisions to discipline provisions, and change the required individual education plans for each student by removing the short term educational objectives. Reauthorization of IDEA is still pending with a very real threat to the education rights of children with disabilities by the Republican Party should they achieve a victory in November 2004.


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