Over the years, Congress has passed an array of sweeping statutes intended to protect some of the most vulnerable Americans from rank bigotry and invidious discrimination. Unfortunately, Congress has done comparatively little to enforce these laws and leans heavily on the volunteer efforts of victims of illegal discrimination, known as “testers,” to fulfill the lofty promises these statutes make. There is nothing more American than the government outsourcing the task of enforcing civil rights law to people who are supposed to be protected by it.
On Wednesday, one of these testers faced the scrutiny of the Supreme Court in a case that will have far-reaching consequences for the enforcement of the Americans With Disabilities Act. At stake in Acheson Hotels v. Laufer is the ability of disabled Americans to travel the country as freely as nondisabled Americans. But it’s also about who bears the burden of fulfilling the promises of civil rights laws—and the conservative legal movement’s efforts to hollow out enforcement of those laws until no one is left to do the work.
Read the rest at Slate here.