Olmstead v. L. C., 527 U.S. 581 (1999)

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OLMSTEAD, COMMISSIONER, GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN RESOURCES, et al. v. L. C., by zimring, guardian ad litem and next friend, et al.

certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the eleventh circuit

No. 98-536. Argued April 21, 1999—Decided June 22, 1999

In the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), Congress described the isolation and segregation of individuals with disabilities as a serious and pervasive form of discrimination. 42 U. S. C. 12101(a)(2), (5). Title II of the ADA, which proscribes discrimination in the provision of public services, specifies, inter alia, that no qualified individual with a disability shall, "by reason of such disability," be excluded from participation in, or be denied the benefits of, a public entity's services, programs, or activities. 12132. Congress instructed the Attorney General to issue regulations implementing Title II's discrimination proscription. See 12134(a). One such regulation, known as the "integration regulation," requires a "public entity [to] administer . . . programs . . . in the most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of qualified individuals with disabilities." 28 CFR 35.130(d). A further prescription, here called the "reasonable-modifications regulation," requires public entities to "make reasonable modifications" to avoid "discrimination on the basis of disability," but does not require measures that would "fundamentally alter" the nature of the entity's programs. 35.130(b)(7).

Respondents L. C. and E. W. are mentally retarded women; L. C. has also been diagnosed with schizophrenia, and E. W., with a personality disorder. Both women were voluntarily admitted to Georgia Regional Hospital at Atlanta (GRH), where they were confined for treatment in a psychiatric unit. Although their treatment professionals eventually concluded that each of the women could be cared for appropriately in a community-based program, the women remained institutionalized at GRH. Seeking placement in community care, L. C. filed this suit against petitioner state officials (collectively, the State) under 42 U. S. C. 1983 and Title II. She alleged that the State violated Title II in failing to place her in a community-based program once her treating professionals determined that such placement was appropriate. E. W. intervened, stating an identical claim. The District Court granted partial summary judgment for the women, ordering their


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