Ex Parte Blaine Milam

Filed: July 18, 2024

Court: Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

Overview: Amicus brief alongside other disability rights organizations arguing that Supreme Court precedent requires courts to refer to clinical standards when determining intellectual disability in death penalty cases.

Excerpt: “In Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002), the United States Supreme Court held that executing defendants with intellectual disability violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Subsequently, in Hall v. Florida, 134 S. Ct. 1986 (2014), in accord with the clinical consensus, the United States Supreme Court rejected an arbitrary cutoff for intelligence quotient (“IQ”) scores in making the intellectual disability determination and emphasized the importance of courts’ adherence to the appropriate clinical standards in their analysis. In Moore v. Texas, 137 S. Ct. 1039 (2017) (hereinafter “Moore I”), the Supreme Court held that the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishments requires that adjudications of intellectual disability in death penalty cases be “informed by the views of medical experts” and that the non-clinical factors adopted in Ex parte Briseño, 135 S.W.3d 1 (Tex. Crim. App. 2004) may no longer be used because they create an unacceptable risk that persons with intellectual disability will be executed. Following the Supreme Court’s lead, this Court has held that Texas courts ‘must be informed by the current medical diagnostic framework for assessing intellectual disability’ when determining whether a person has intellectual disability. Petetan v. State, 622 S.W.3d 321, 357 (Tex. Crim. App. 2021); Moore I, 137 S. Ct. at 1044. Courts must insist on the use of the clinical framework in evaluating Atkins claims. Otherwise, they risk violating the Eighth Amendment and unconstitutionally sentencing individuals to death.”

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Guthrey v. Alta California Regional Center

Filed: July 11, 2024

Court: U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Overview: Amicus brief arguing that California regional centers and their vendors, which coordinate and deliver services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, are places of public accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Excerpt: “Because they have physical buildings at which and from which they provide services to the public, California Regional Centers and their vendors (including Defendants/Appellees) are all places of public accommodation under Title III of the ADA. . .and the services they provide individuals like Plaintiffs/Appellants are covered by that statute. . .This Circuit’s requirement that discrimination challenged under Title III have a ‘nexus’ to a physical building simply requires a connection to that building; it does not require that the discrimination have occurred on the physical premises. The district court’s opinion requiring a showing that the challenged services were provided at Defendants’ offices. . . improperly restricted the reach of Title III, contrary to the plain language of the statute, its legislative history, and this Circuit’s precedent. The district court also improperly required that plaintiffs establish a violation of the ADA as a prerequisite to a claim under either Section 504 or the Unruh Act. These holdings are completely unsupported, as the three statutes – while all addressing disability discrimination – do so in different contexts with, as a result, different required factual predicates.  Ultimately, by eliminating all recourse for individuals with IDD to challenge discrimination by Regional Centers and their vendors, the district court’s decision threatens to undermine years of progress through both the ADA and California’s Lanterman Act.”

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City of Grants Pass, Oregon v. Johnson

Filed: April 3, 2024

Court: U.S. Supreme Court

Overview: Amicus brief arguing that the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment prohibits cities from criminalizing conduct associated with being unhoused.

Excerpt: “People with disabilities face unique challenges and deep-rooted stigmas that increase their risk for homelessness. Less than 5% of housing in the United States is accessible for moderate mobility disabilities, and less than 1% is accessible for wheelchair use. Housing costs are prohibitive for many disabled people who rely on public assistance for basic costs of living—the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment in the United States exceeds the maximum monthly Supplemental Security Income a person can receive. Moreover, widespread housing discrimination on the basis of disability further compounds the risk of homelessness. The Ordinances’ impact on homeless people with disabilities highlights how grossly out of proportion the punishments they impose are to the severity of the offense. Simply put, criminalizing the involuntary conduct of being a homeless person without a place to sleep—in a city with no public shelters—is anathema to the decency standards of any civilized society.”

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Storytelling Toolkit for People With Disabilities and Advocates

Your life and experiences are powerful and valuable. Sharing your story can change people’s hearts and minds.

This toolkit will help you create and share your stories to raise awareness about an issue, encourage elected officials to change laws or policies, ask people to support changes you want to make in your life, and share about what your life is like.

Download the resources below to get started!

Intersections of Disability and Rurality: Elevating Family Voices

In this recorded webinar, you will hear from Jessica Curd about rural caregiving and disability. She talks about how poverty, living in rural areas, caregiving, and having a disability can overlap and create higher risks and vulnerability. She also talks about a study she did with Dr. John Keesler. They listened to families in rural areas with kids with autism and let them share their experiences. Jessica explains how they did the study and what they found. She also talks about ideas from the families for how to help more.

Download the presentation here.

Introduction to The Arc@School Advocacy Curriculum in Spanish

These recorded webinars provide a brief overview of the Spanish version of The Arc@School’s Special Education Advocacy Curriculum. The curriculum provides basic information that parents, educators, and non-attorney advocates need to support students and families in navigating the special education system. Watch the webinar to learn more about the content of the curriculum, how to sign up to receive an account, what to expect after signing up, and more.



Talk About Sexual Violence: Phase Three Final Report

Transforming Health Care to Address and Prevent Sexual Violence of People With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: Final Report 

Health care providers hold vital positions in the growing national movement to address sexual assault. The overarching goals of the multi-year Talk About Sexual Violence (TASV) project were to raise the alarm about this silent epidemic, promote trauma-informed practices in health care, and compel action to prevent sexual trauma suffered in communities across the country.

This comprehensive summary report provides key findings, innovative solutions, and a call to action from survivors with disabilities, health care professionals, and other advocates.

This final report is provided both in a written format and as a video.

Shifting Our View: A Person-Centered Journey

In this webinar, Lori Ropa, Executive Director of The Arc of Jefferson, Clear Creek, and Gilpin Counties, discusses how she embarked on a journey with their advocacy team during COVID to “shift their views” and attempted to understand the thoughts and feelings of the people who came to support them. Lori’s team developed personas and mapped people’s journeys through The Arc through the lens of each persona. They then developed actionable items to make the advocacy experience even more positive for the people coming to their organization for support.

Download presentation here.

Restrained and Secluded: How a Change in Perspective for Students With Disabilities and Simple Science Can Change Everything

Students with disabilities are more likely to be restrained, secluded, suspended, expelled, and subjected to corporal punishment. In the name of behavior, children with disabilities, Black and brown children, and children with a trauma history are often misunderstood. Outdated behavioral management approaches are not working for the children who need our help the most. Being the parent or caregiver of a misunderstood child can be difficult. We are often blamed and shamed, but there is hope. A bit of neuroscience and a new lens on behavior can reduce and eliminate punitive practices and lead to endless potential.

Speaker Bio: Guy Stephens lives in Southern Maryland with his wife and two amazing children. He is the founder and Executive Director of the nonprofit Alliance Against Seclusion and Restraint (AASR). AASR is a community of over 25,000 parents, self-advocates, teachers, school administrators, paraprofessionals, attorneys, related service providers, and others working together to influence change in supporting children whose behaviors are often misunderstood. He has presented at conferences and events across North America and guest lectures for undergraduate and graduate courses as a national expert on the issue of restraint and seclusion.

Download presentation here.

Download transcript here.

For further questions, please email school@thearc.org.

2023 Talk About Sexual Violence Final Report: Transforming Health Care to Address Sexual Violence of People With IDD

In this video, Leigh Anne McKingsley, Senior Director of The Arc’s National Center on Criminal Justice and Disability, and Kecia Weller, Survivor Self-Advocate and Project Advisor, provide an overview of the key findings and recommendations of the Talk About Sexual Violence project over the past seven years.