26 Harv. C.R.-C.L. L. Rev. 413 (1991)
The Americans with Disabilities Act: Analysis and Implications of a Second-Generation Civil Rights Statute

handle is hein.journals/hcrcl26 and id is 419 raw text is: THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT:
ANALYSIS AND IMPLICATIONS OF A SECOND-
GENERATION CIVIL RIGHTS STATUTE
Robert L. Burgdorf Jr.*
Martin Luther King, Jr. once wrote that our nation's civil
rights laws were a sparse and insufficient collection of statutes
... barely a naked framework.' On their faces, many federal
civil rights statutes constitute little more than broad directives that
Thou shalt not discriminate. Broadly worded statements outlaw-
ing discrimination were the optimal approach to statutory drafts-
manship in light of the controversial nature of the civil rights laws
passed in the 1960s and 1970s. The drafters of these statutes
needed to craft language that would be palatable to a majority of
the members of Congress while still having a meaningful impact
in proscribing discriminatory actions. More detailed standards re-
garding the application of nondiscrimination principles were left
to be developed by regulatory agencies and court decisions.
On July 26, 1990 the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
(ADA) was signed into law.2 In his remarks before the more
than 3000 people, predominantly individuals with disabilities, gath-
ered on the South Lawn of the White House for the signing cere-
mony, President Bush described the Act as an historic new civil
rights Act . . . the world's first comprehensive declaration of
* Associate Professor of Law, District of Columbia School of Law. Professor Burgdorf
was the staff author for the National Council on the Handicapped's report Toward Inde-
pendence, in which the concept of an Americans with Disabilities Act was first proposed,
and he drafted the original Americans with Disabilities Act bill introduced in Congress in
1988.
The author would like to thank the Dole Foundation for its support of this Article, as
well as the staff of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, especially Guy
Wallace, Arti Rai, Cathy Bendor, Dave Hackney, Scott McElhaney, Mark McGoldrick,
Joe Metcalfe and Chris Steskal, for their editorial assistance.
I MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., WHERE Do WE Go FROM HERE: CHAOS OR COMMU-
NITY? 10 (1967).
2 Pub. L. No. 101-336, 104 Stat. 327 (1990).

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