Congress is poised to enact the ADA Restoration Act. That law is based on the unfounded notion that the federal courts have too narrowly interpreted who qualifies as “disabled” under the existing Americans with Disabilities Act, which entitles the disabled to special breaks (known as “reasonable accommodations”).
Congress’s fears appear to be baseless, as a recent court decision shows. The existing definition of disability is already quite broad, covering many ailments that are both invisible and manageable. (And the special accommodations required for the disabled can be quite onerous, prompting disabilities lawsuits over things like web sites and paper money).
For example, I learned recently from the federal courts that I am disabled. The D.C. Circuit, the most influential federal appeals court, recently ruled in Desmond v. Mukasey that having difficulty sleeping more than five hours per night makes you disabled, even if it’s not necessarily permanent, but rather a recent reaction to a traumatic event.
Well, I have insomnia, and seldom manage to sleep more than five hours per night. So apparently, I, too, am disabled and entitled to special accommodations. In spite of being a “pale male” (to quote one detractor) with a middle-class lifestyle, I now myself qualify as being a member of a protected class, with any special perks that may come from that status.
And most Americans will soon join me in qualifying as “disabled” if the Senate enacts the ADA Amendments Act (also known as the ADA Restoration Act), which would broaden the definition of disability to include many trivial impairments.