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The Discriminations Based on Significant Court Cases

The first authors of the American constitution left the decision of the question of racial segregation to the discretion of the future generations, and the civil war and the Reconstruction gave only a temporary respite from the racial discrimination for the former slaves and their descendants. However, in the middle of the 1950s, the US Supreme Court began to subject the laws, discriminating based on race, the color of skin or ethnicity, a strict judicial inspection, forbidding practically all forms of racial discrimination of the government. Later the Supreme court also subjected to even more intent inspection the laws based on the discrimination by gender, while congress forbade not only the discrimination by gender in various areas but also the unequal treatment of people with disabilities.

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Since the Second World War, veterans and Americans with disabilities lobbied congress about protection against discrimination on the basis of physical disabilities. In 1990 the coalition aspiring to the acceptance of such law has convinced Congress to pass the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Defining people with disabilities as having physical or intellectual defects, limiting one or several vital functions, the law guarantees state privileges, possibilities of employment, simultaneously obliging employers and other persons to make the necessary corrections for the maintenance of the purposes of the adoption of this act. ADA passed a long way to decrease the obstacles which people with disabilities face in employment, education, and in other aspects. In terms of education, ADA was one of a number of laws affecting educational institutions including the Rehabilitation Act (1973), and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Although disabilities discrimination acts and racial discrimination acts had similar purposes, their legislation paths took different directions. This paper analyzes the differences in the approaches taken to remedy each of the discriminations based on significant court cases, pointing out the impossibility of addressing the issues of discrimination identically in each case.

Observing the differences in solving racial and disabilities discrimination, the state of discrimination that led to legislating the acts and their purposes should be outlined. In the case of racial discrimination, after the civil war the congress accepted, and the states ratified some amendments to the Constitution, directed toward maintaining the absolute rights of citizenship for the former slaves who were freed by Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.

The main position of the 14th amendment ratified in 1868 that says: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

The acceptance and the premature application of amendments led only to partial and temporary termination of discrimination in the United States. Using its authority in law enforcement of amendments, the congress accepted a variety of important laws. The Civil Rights Act of 1875, for example, prohibited racial discrimination in public accommodations and jury duty. But even the congress, which accepted the 14th amendment, allowed the segregation in schools of Washington (District Columbia).

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The laws of discrimination witnessed rises and falls, where cases such as Plessy v. Ferguson, Sweatt v. Painter, Brown v. Board of Education, Brown and Brown III slowly but with confident steps desegregated racial discrimination. An important point to mention is that all laws and acts regarding racial discrimination demanded equal treatment for all population layers, where population of different color and ethnicity were initially identical to the white in terms of physical and mental abilities.

Disabilities discrimination of the other hand, taking Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), for example, demands “special treatment” for people with disabilities. The term equal in the Act’s provisions establishes the equality of getting education, however, the form of education cannot be equal for people with disabilities and non handicapped students. In cases such as Daniel R. v. State Board of Education the racial discrimination approach in being equal could not be used as the equality in the needs of the handicapped children affected others.

Thus, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act acted more for the availability rather than equality, as handicapped children were different by default. In that sense, Cedar Rapids Community School District v. Garret F. where the dispute was over the availability of “special” relative service, rather than on equality. Honig v. Doe is another case that demonstrates the emphasis on the special approach to people with disabilities rather than treating them equally.

In that sense it can be seen that disabilities discrimination is a different case, and if the approach used in IDEA was used in racial discrimination, the doctrine of “separate but equal” would still have existed until these days. In the same manner if the approach used in racial discrimination acts was applied to people with disabilities, the equality in treatment for handicapped children would have shown different results and a case such as Honig v. Doe would have ended differently. Thus, the difference in approach is resulted from different purposes, although the ultimate goal in both case racial discrimination and disabilities discrimination is the same.

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