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Olmstead v. L.C.
The Olmstead case began with two women who had mental illness and developmental disabilities, and were voluntarily admitted to the psychiatric unit in a State-run Georgia Regional Hospital. Following the women's medical treatment there, mental health professionals stated that each was ready to move to a community-based program. However, the women remained confined in the institution, each for several years after the initial treatment was concluded. They filed suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for release from the hospital.
On June 22, 1999, the United States Supreme Court held in Olmstead v. L.C. that unjustified segregation of persons with disabilities constitutes unlawful discrimination in violation of Title II of the ADA. The Court held that public entities must provide community-based services to persons with disabilities when (1) such services are appropriate; (2) the affected persons do not oppose community-based treatment; and (3) community-based services can be reasonably accommodated, taking into account the resources available to the public entity and the needs of others who are receiving disability services from the entity.
The Supreme Court explained that its holding "reflects two evident judgments." First, "institutional placement of persons who can handle and benefit from community settings perpetuates unwarranted assumptions that persons so isolated are incapable of or unworthy of participating in community life." Second, "confinement in an institution severely diminishes the everyday life activities of individuals, including family relations, social contacts, work options, economic independence, educational advancement, and cultural enrichment."
For More Information on Olmstead
- Olmstead: Community Integration for Everyone
Website from Department of Justice (DOJ) dedicated to enforcement of the Supreme Court Decision in Olmstead v. L.C.
- Q&A Guide: Statement of the Department of Justice on Enforcement of the Integration Mandate of Title II of the ADA and Olmstead v. L.C [PDF]
Technical assistance guide to assist individuals in understanding their rights and public entities in understanding their obligations under the ADA and Olmstead.
- Faces of Olmstead
Personal stories of a few of the thousands of people whose lives have been improved by the Olmstead decision and the DOJ’s Olmstead enforcement work.
- Olmstead v. L.C
(98-536) 527 U.S. 581 (1999) 138 F.3d 893, affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded.
Olmstead in the News Highlights
- HUD Issues New Guidance to Encourage Participation in State Efforts to Assist Individuals Moving Out of Institutions and Into Housing
- New Olmstead Settlement Agreement
- HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius Statement on 14th Anniversary of U.S. Supreme Court Olmstead Decision
- Senator Harkin Releases Report Showing ADA’s Promise of Integration is Not Being Met for Many Americans with Disabilities
- Justice Department Files Lawsuit Against the State of Florida for Unnecessarily Segregating Children with Disabilities