The Olmstead Decision
Seventeen years ago, on June 22, 1999, the Supreme Court decided in Olmstead v. L.C. (Olmstead) that under the Americans with Disabilities Act, people with disabilities cannot be unnecessarily segregated and must receive services in the most integrated setting possible.
The case was brought by two Georgia women whose disabilities include intellectual disabilities and mental illness. At the time the suit was filed, both plaintiffs were receiving mental health services in state-run institutions, despite the fact that their treatment professionals believed they could be appropriately served in a community-based setting. The Court based its ruling in Olmstead on sections of the ADA and federal regulations that require states to administer their services, programs and activities “in the most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of qualified individuals with disabilities.”
Since this ruling, Ms. Lois Curtis, one of the two plaintiffs in the case, has launched a new journey. She rents a home in the Stone Mounotain area of Georgia where she chose a fellow artist and friend to be her roommate. Unfortunately, there are many people who dream of what Lois has, but instead continue to live in settings that are not of their own choosing.
Because of Olmstead, community living has been the cornerstone of the disability rights movement and is at the core of the Administration for Community Living’s mission to maximize the independence, well-being, and health of older adults, people with disabilities across the lifespan.
Please explore multimedia resources below to learn more about the significance of Olmstead.
The Faces of Olmstead—the personal stories of a few of the thousands of people whose lives have been improved by the Olmstead decision and the Department’s Olmstead enforcement work