The Path to the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act: U.S. Supreme Court Cases, Congressional Intent, and Substantial Change


The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), enacted in 1990, was enacted to protect individuals from discrimination on the basis of disability. Since 1990, the U.S. Supreme Court narrowed the ADA’s application. Congress reacted to this narrowing of the ADA by passing the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (“ADAAA”) in 2008 (effective January 1, 2009).

Because the ADAAA is still new legislation, this article examines the ADAAA in order to better understand the changes to the ADA. This article begins with an examination of the ADA and the relevant U.S. Supreme Court cases: Sutton v. United Air Lines, Inc. and Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. v. Williams. Next, this article analyzes the ADAAA, examining how Congress reacted to Sutton and Toyota, the statutory language used within the ADAAA, and the various changes to the ADA juxtaposed with the sections that remain the same. The article concludes that while Congress was successful in expanding coverage with passage of the ADAAA, the full ramifications of these changes are unknowable until a body of case law on the ADAAA is developed by the courts.


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Teressa L. Elliott,The Path to the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act: U.S. Supreme Court Cases, Congressional Intent,and Substantial Change, 48 Gonz. L. Rev. 395 (2013).

About dkazemba

David Kazemba J.D. Candidate 2014

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