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Killing Me Sovereignly

The Quiet Demise of the Americans With Disabilities Act

Miller, Michelle MPH, JD, RN1; Neal-Boylan, Leslie PhD, CRRN, APRN, FAAN2

doi: 10.1097/rnj.0000000000000141

Purpose The aim of the study was to make rehabilitation nurses aware that the Supreme Court has limited some of the protections afforded by the Americans With Disabilities Act (1990) on the basis of “sovereign immunity.”

Methods The authors use the case review method to analyze Supreme Court cases and alternatives for people with disabilities discriminated against because of the state in which they live.

Findings Sovereign immunity makes it more difficult for a disabled person to bring a lawsuit against a state government (as an employer or provider of a public service) under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Conclusion The extent to which disabled Americans can fully participate in their communities should not depend on where in the country they live.

Clinical Relevance As patient advocates, rehabilitation nurses are in an ideal position to educate patients and families and have a duty to make their voices heard to persuade lawmakers to strengthen legal protections for disabled Americans.

1Quinnipiac University, Hamden, CT, USA

2MGH Institute of Health Professions, Charlestown, MA, USA

Correspondence: Leslie Neal-Boylan, PhD, CRRN, APRN, FAAN, MGH Institute of Health Professions, 36 1st Ave., Charlestown, MA 02129. E-mail:

Cite this article as: Miller, M., & Neal-Boylan, L. (2019). Killingme sovereignly. Rehabilitation Nursing, 44(2), 96–103. doi: 10.1097/rnj.0000000000000141

© 2019 Association of Rehabilitation Nurses.
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