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16 Law & Ineq. 153 (1998)
Empowerment for the Pursuit of Happiness: Parents with Disabilities and the Americans with Disabilities Act

handle is hein.journals/lieq16 and id is 159 raw text is: Empowerment for the Pursuit of
Happiness: Parents with Disabilities and
the Americans with Disabilities Act
Dave Shade*
Grief fills the room up of my absent child,
Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me,
Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words,
Remembers me of all his gracious parts,
Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form...
O Lord! My boy, my Arthur, my fair son!
My life, my joy, my food, my all the world!
My widow-comfort, and my sorrows' cure!1
The right to establish a home and raise children is among the
most basic of civil rights, long recognized as essential to the or-
derly pursuit of happiness.2 Cherished as this right may be, how-
ever, it has been violated, abused or just ignored for people with
disabilities.3 Although persons with disabilities have made signifi-
* J.D. University of Maryland School of Law; B.A. Biomedical Engineering,
Johns Hopkins University. The author gratefully recognizes the important contri-
butions made by his family and by Professor Stan Herr, Professor Jana Singer and
the editors of Law & Inequality.
1. WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, KING JOHN, act 3, sc. 4 (David Bevington ed., Ban-
tam Books 1988) (1594). Few experiences elicit devastation as universal as that
evoked by the loss of parenthood.
2. See Rosemary Shaw Sackett, Terminating Parental Rights of the Handi-
capped, 25 FAM. L.Q. 253, 258 (1991) (citing Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390
(1923) (holding that a state law forbidding the teaching of any modern language,
other than English, to any child who has not passed the eighth grade, invades the
liberty guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment); In re Carmaleta B., 579 P.2d
514 (Cal. 1978) (holding that parenting is a fundamental right which may be dis-
turbed only in extreme cases where the parent or parents act in a fashion incom-
patible with parenthood); In re B.G., 523 P.2d 244 (Cal. 1974) (holding that a juve-
nile court may award custody of a child to a nonparent only upon a clear showing
that such award is essential to avert harm to the child)).
3. Numerous examples will be developed, infra Part I.B. There may be no
clear preference for the proper language to be used when referring to people with
disabilities. In fact, in 1991, a New York foundation sponsored a $50,000 contest

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