Friday, July 26, 2013

Judge Markle's Fantastic Article on Olmstead from the Atlanta Business Chronicle April 19, 2013

Judge Todd Markle
Next year marks the 15th anniversary of a landmark U.S. Supreme Court opinion on civil rights. The Olmstead decision is often compared to Brown v. Board of Education in its significance yet it remains largely unknown to the public, its mandate perhaps “more honored in the breach than the observance.”
Odds are, most of us will be touched by the reach of Olmstead in the years ahead so its requirements are worth note. Its proscriptions against discrimination of persons with disabilities are worth celebrating.
The story of Olmstead dates back to 1990 when the senior President Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act. In announcing that it was time for “the shameful walls of exclusion” to come tumbling down, President Bush observed that “every man, woman and child with a disability can now pass through once-closed doors into a bright new era of equality, independence and freedom.”
Just as with implementation of Brown, however, the thick walls of discrimination against the disabled were slow to fall.

The Olmstead case itself originated in the Atlanta courtroom of Judge Marvin Shoob as an effort to enforce the ADA’s integration mandate requiring provision of government services in the most integrated setting consistent with individual need. The Atlanta Legal Aid Society brought the suit on behalf of two Georgia women who were being unlawfully segregated when they were confined to institutions in order to receive medical services. The case ultimately reached the highest court in the land.

In its 1999 decision, the Olmstead Court held that individuals with disabilities have a right to receive services in their homes and communities. The Court aptly noted Congress’ concern when it passed the ADA that segregation of individuals with disabilities is a serious and pervasive form of discrimination. After Olmstead, there can be no doubt that men and women who currently live in nursing homes and institutions have the right to return to their homes and communities. Many have done so while others have avoided institutionalization altogether.

Nevertheless, implementation of the Olmstead mandate around the country has been slow and uneven. Citing the lack of financial resources, some states have resisted voluntary compliance with the Olmstead directives. Others have bowed to political pressure from special interests and continued to invest in outdated and obsolete institutions. To meet its obligations, Georgia has a full-time Olmstead coordinator who is charged with the responsibility of implementing Georgia’s obligations arising from the decision.

Although change is often difficult and no doubt involves front-loaded expense to cash-strapped state governments, full compliance with Olmstead will ultimately prove cost-effective. Studies demonstrate what should otherwise be obvious: The cost of community care is a fraction as that of institutional treatment. Moreover, the outcomes from community care are far better than traditional segregation through institutionalization. It is worth noting that many of the evidence-based research findings that helped drive the Criminal Justice Reform Council’s recommendations are equally relevant on the issue of treatment and care of the disabled. Regardless, Olmstead is the law of the land and compliance is not optional.

As the Olmstead anniversary approaches, we should celebrate the end of yet another distasteful chapter of discrimination in our collective history. Under Olmstead, each of us now has a right to receive disability services in our homes and communities rather than in dehumanizing institutions. Olmstead has given new life to thousands of Americans with disabilities. As Brown brought the end of segregated public education, Olmstead brought the end of segregated disability services.

Future generations undoubtedly will ask, what took so long?

Markle is a judge on the Superior Court of Fulton County and will be the judge of the new Fulton Veterans Court. Prior to his appointment to the bench, he served as executive counsel to Gov. Nathan Deal. Judge Markle chaired the Criminal Justice Reform Council in 2011 and remains a member by the designation of Gov. Deal.

Landmark Olmstead Settlement in New York!

Landmark Settlement for New York City Adult Home Residents
Scattered-Site Housing, Community Services Enable Independence, Integration

NEW YORK—July 23, 2013—Lawyers for adult home residents, together with the U.S. Department of Justice, reached a landmark settlement with New York State. The settlement ensures that thousands of residents of 23 large “adult homes”—board and care homes serving primarily people with mental illnesses—will have the opportunity to live in their own homes with the services they need to succeed and be participants in their communities.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Long Road Home Olmstead Celebration -- Rome, Georgia


NWGA Center for Independent Living will be hosting an Olmstead Anniversary Celebration at the Rome Floyd County Library located at 205 Riverside Parkway NE, Rome, Georgia 30161 in the Oostanaula and Etowah rooms from 11AM to 1PM on Wednesday, June 19, 2013.  Everyone is welcome!  Lunch will be served.  Please RSVP to NWGA CIL at 706-314-0008  by Monday, June 17 at noon in order to have an accurate count for lunch.

Olmstead is the 1999 Supreme Court Decision that enables people of all ages with disabilities to move out of nursing homes and institutions and return home.  As we celebrate the 14th Anniversary of this landmark disability rights decision, we still have a long way to go.  Join us so you can learn what you can do, to network with others, and to have some fun too!

NWGA Center for Independent Living is a non-residential, community-based nonprofit run by people with disabilities to empower anyone with a disability of any age to become more independent.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

I am Olmstead

In 2014, Olmstead will have its 15th anniversary.  To celebrate, the Atlanta Legal Aid Society's Disability Integration Project will be debuting

We have been working with Leadership Atlanta to create a public service announcement about Olmstead.  Here is the first draft.  I am Olmstead Public Service Announcement First Draft We are still working on it, but it is already fantastic.  Please check it out.

Inside Bush v. Gore

This is a quick side note from the regular posts on this blog because my (Talley's) Dad is coming out with a book.  Please check it out.  Inside Bush v. Gore by Charley Wells  I am very excited about it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Mental Health Day at the Capitol 
Please join us at Mental Health Day at the Capitol on February 19th. To sign up, contact the Georgia Parent Support Network at 404 758-4500 and ask for Rheba Smith. 

 “Cover Georgia Day” on Tuesday, February 19th from 9AM to 1PM. 

Cover Georgia is a coalition of consumer and patient advocates, providers, and industry stakeholders who have come together around a common goal: covering Georgia’s uninsured by expanding Medicaid.
 Starts at 9am at Central Presbyterian Church (201 Washington Street, across from the State Capitol) 
 Don’t miss out on this important event–please join us and make a difference. Help us Cover Georgia.  There is no cost to attend but please RSVP so we have the necessary materials on hand.
To learn more about Cover Georgia and to join the coalition efforts, go to

Suicide Prevention Day is February 21, 2013. Contact Sheri McGuinness at for more information. 

Disability Day at the Capitol February 21, 2013 (register by February 15th)

Disability Day is an annual rally sponsored by Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities on the steps of the State Capitol each year to promote access, opportunity and meaningful community living for Georgians with disabilities and their families. Advocates from across the State, elected officials, State legislators and Georgia citizens with and without disabilities gather together to make their voices heard.

Join us for the 15th Annual Disability Day on February 21, 2013 on the Capitol steps! This year's theme, "What's Your Connection?," is also the US Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy's (ODEP) national campaign that emphasizes a disability as a universal link that each of us have in common and encourages inclusion in all aspects of life. ODEP recently launched "What's Your Connection?" to invite people nationwide to participate in the campaign by submitting a captioned photograph or video that answers the question "What's your connection to disability?"

Join us at Disability Day to find out how to participate in "What's Your Connection?" or visit
Register for the 15th Annual Disability Day before February 15, 2013

Opinion Piece on Mental Illness and Mass Shootings

DON'T MAKE SCAPEGOATS OF PEOPLE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS by Ellyn Jeager, January 26, 2013, Georgia Health News