restricted access Chapter 31. Wheels of Justice and the Chapman Amendment
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514 31 Wheels of Justice and the Chapman Amendment By spring 1990 disability rights advocates and their allies had shepherded the ADA past its first hurdles in the Senate. After hearings in the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources and negotiations between the Senate, the White House, and disability advocates, the full Senate passed its own version of the ADA—S. 933—by a vote of 76–8 on September 7, 1989. Passage in the House would prove more difficult. As has been mentioned, the bill had to be heard—and approved—by a variety of separate committees and subcommittees, including subcommittees on Select Education and Employment Opportunities, on Surface Transportation, on Telecommunications and Finance, and so on. Even the House Subcommittee on Transportation and Hazardous Materials felt it necessary to conduct a hearing (on September 28, 1989) on the ADA. The pace therefore was necessarily slower. Although the House Committee on Education and Labor reported out its version of the bill, as amended, on November 14, 1989, the Committee on Small Business was still hearing testimony at the end of February 1990. It wasn’t until March 1 that the House Subcommittee on Surface Transportation reported to the full Committee on Public Works and Transportation, which in turn still needed to consider and approve the bill, while such critical committees as Energy and Commerce, Rules, and Judiciary still needed to debate, vote, and report out their versions of the bill. Indeed, it wouldn’t be until May 17 that the full House would begin debate leading to a vote on a House ADA, after which a Senate/House conference committee would need to hammer out differences between the two versions of the bill. Only then could each chamber take a final vote, after which, of course, would come the final hurdle: winning White House approval and President Bush’s signature to turn the ADA from a bill into the law of the land. At each step of the way there was a possibility of delay, not to mention passage of some “poison pill” amendment that might make the entire bill unpal- wheels of justice and the chapman amendment 515 atable to other House committees, the full House, the Senate, the president, or—most important of all—the disability community itself.1 Michael Auberger (continued) “Everybody in Washington . . . was scared to death that we were going to blow it.” Impatient with the process and the pace, ADAPT—by this time well versed in the strategy and tactics of direct action civil disobedience—staged its “Wheels of Justice” campaign. Central to the effort was Michael Auberger, veteran now of dozens of actions and of multiple arrests. The three days of demonstrations—March 12–14, 1990—particularly the “crawl-up” at the Capitol steps on March 12—provided some of the most powerfulimagesinthehistoryofthemovement .Formanyofthoseparticipating,itwas, as Auberger himself describes it, nothing less than a “cathartic” experience. The next day’s sit-in in the Capitol rotunda was itself hardly an anticlimax. And it revealed some interesting splits inside a movement on the verge of its greatest legislative triumph, when, according to Auberger, those working more or less inside the halls of power were concerned that those on the outside might do more harm than good. In the late eighties it started to become chic for independent living centers to participate in ADAPT actions. Wherever we went, from early on, if there was a local ILC, we tried to get local folks there to participate, and typically they weren’t going to be part of anything we did. But in the late eighties all of a sudden ADAPT was chic, because obviously we were making progress, and the independent living system had not had much luck in public transportation at all, whereas by 1990 we had an agreement with UMTA [Urban Mass Transportation Administration], . . . to mandate 100 percent lift-equipped buses in all future purchases. So we felt comfortable enough that it was going the right way, and then the ADA shows up. We agreed to participate in the ADA stuff, because of the public transportation piece. It was clear that policy is one thing, but putting it into law was something that we always wanted, and the ADA was a vehicle for us to do that. 516 chapter 31 Until we went to DC and did the march on the Capitol and the sit-in at the rotunda, we actually purposely had not dealt with the Washington folks. Pat Wright, and...


Subject Headings

  • United States. Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
  • People with disabilities -- Civil rights -- United States -- History.
  • People with disabilities -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- United States -- History.
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