2020 News & Alerts
November 9, 2020 – Bazelon Center Applauds Introduction of the Mental Health Justice Act
The Bazelon Center applauds the November 9, 2020 introduction of the Mental Health Justice Act by Reps. Katie Porter, Tony Cárdenas, Mary Gay Scanlon, and Ayanna Pressley. Individuals with mental illnesses and intellectual and developmental disabilities are more likely to experience police violence during arrest, with one out of every four deaths caused by law enforcement officers being a person with a mental illness. The Mental Health Justice Act would address this by creating a grant program to pay for hiring, training, salary, benefits and additional expenses for mental health provider first responder units. These mental health providers would act as a mental health emergency response team, deployed in lieu of law enforcement officers when 911 is called because someone is in a mental health crisis or related situation. Read more about the Mental Health Justice Act here.
October 26, 2020 – Contact Your Senators Now: Tell Them to Vote No on Amy Coney Barrett
On Monday, October 26th, the full Senate will vote on Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court. Judge Barrett’s confirmation to the Supreme Court would pose a serious threat to the rights of people with disabilities. Judge Barrett has stated that she believes the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is unconstitutional. Millions of Americans with disabilities stand to lose their health care coverage if Justice Barrett becomes a deciding vote to strike down the law. If she is confirmed on Monday, she would join the Court in time to participate in the November 10th arguments in the case challenging the ACA. Please tell your Senators to vote no on her nomination! Read the full alert (PDF).
October 22, 2020 – Senate Judiciary Vote This Afternoon: Call Your Senators Today & Tell Them to Vote No on Amy Coney Barrett
The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote this afternoon on Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court. Judge Barrett’s confirmation to the Supreme Court would pose a serious threat to the rights of people with disabilities. Judge Barrett has stated that she believes the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is unconstitutional. Millions of Americans with disabilities stand to lose their health care coverage if Justice Barrett becomes a deciding vote to strike down the law. If she is confirmed on the schedule currently set, she would join the Court in time to participate in the November 10th arguments in the case challenging the ACA. Please tell your Senators to vote no on her nomination! Read the full alert (PDF).
October 5, 2020 – Bazelon Center and More Than 50 Other Disability Organizations Send Letter to Senate in Opposition to Nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett
Today, the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, together with more than 50 other organizations representing people with disabilities, sent a letter to the Senate leadership, urging them to reject the nomination of Judge Barrett to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The coalition also states that Congress should not act on any nomination to the Supreme Court until it has passed and the President has signed a COVID-19 relief bill. Read the letter (PDF).
May 21, 2020 – Bazelon Center Opinion Piece Featured in The Hill on Necessity of Reduction of Population in Psychiatric Hospitals
Today, Bazelon Center Legal Director Ira Burnim had his Opinion piece, “COVID-19 spreading quickly through psychiatric hospitals: Reduction of population a must,”published in The Hill. Read the op-ed.
May 15, 2020 – Bazelon Center and Partners Release Guidance on COVID-19 Hospital Visitation Policies
Today the Bazelon Center and partners have released a guide setting forth what hospitals and doctors’ offices must do to comply with the ADA and other disability rights laws when there are no-visitor policies in place due to COVID. The guide explains the requirement to make reasonable modifications to such policies and to allow a person to bring someone else to support them when necessary to accommodate the person’s disability. Read the guide (PDF).
May 13, 2020 – Bazelon Center and Eighteen Other Leading National Disability Rights Organizations File Amicus Brief in California v. Texas, Defending the Affordable Care Act
Today the Bazelon Center and eighteen other leading national disability rights organizations represented by the Center filed an amicus brief in the upcoming Supreme Court case, California, et. al. v. Texas, et. al, defending the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The brief outlines the ACA’s critical importance to people with disabilities, providing access to needed health care coverage and services that allow people to live healthy and independent lives. Read the full amicus brief (PDF).
May 8, 2020 – Bazelon Center Joins Connecticut Legal Rights Project in Federal Class Action Lawsuit Addressing the Spread of COVID-19 in Two Connecticut Psychiatric Hospitals
Yesterday the Bazelon Center joined the Connecticut Legal Rights Project in a federal class action lawsuit addressing the spread of COVID-19 in two Connecticut psychiatric hospitals, where patients face grave risks to their health and safety as a result of the facilities failure to take adequate measures to protect residents, in violation of the Constitution, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and other laws. The plaintiffs ask the state to take steps to ensure the safety of patients in two state psychiatric hospitals by discharging individuals to community services and ensuring adequate safety measures for those remaining in the hospitals. Read the complaint (PDF).
April 15, 2020 – Bazelon Center Urges Decrease of Number of Individuals in Psychiatric Hospitals during COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has created enormous health risks for people confined in psychiatric hospitals. Today, the Bazelon Center released a statement urging states and localities to decrease the number of individuals in psychiatric hospitals during this pandemic by reducing admissions and accelerating discharges. Read a copy of the statement (PDF).
April 6, 2020 — Bazelon Center Statement on the Urgency of Reducing the Jail Population During the COVID-19 Crisis
Today the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law released a statement urging all jurisdictions to: (1) Immediately release a majority of the individuals with mental illness held in jails, and (2) Take immediate steps to divert from jail the majority of individuals with mental illness who are arrested. Read the statement (PDF).
March 20, 2020 – Disability Groups Urge HHS to Take Steps to Prevent Discriminatory Rationing of Coronavirus Treatment
Today the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), the largest coalition of national organizations working together to advocate for Federal public policy that ensures the self-determination, independence, empowerment, integration and inclusion of children and adults with disabilities, sent the following letter to the Department of Health and Human Services. Jennifer Mathis, the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law’s Policy Director & Deputy Director of Litigation & one of the co-chairs of the Rights Task Force, helped lead CCD’s effort to urge Secretary Azar and Roger Severino, Director of the Office of Civil Rights, to ensure that if the current pandemic results in decisions to ration treatment, decisions about how medical treatment should be allocated are made without discriminating based on disability. Read the letter (PDF).