Disability Rights Nation
The U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National League of Cities, along with a number of other state and local government associations, have filed a brief supporting Georgia in its case before the U.S. Supreme Court.
This is the second friend-of-the-court brief to gain the attention of ADAPT activists, who have been working to get states to remove their names from a brief submitted to the Court a month earlier. The Mayors' brief is also signed by the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Council of State Governments, the National Governors' Association, the National Association of Counties, the International Municipal Lawyers Association and the International City/County Management Association.
Pressure by activists in January caused a number of attorneys general to drop off a friend-of-the-court brief they had originally signed, which was submitted by Florida. Even Florida eventually dropped the brief; the lead role was assumed by Nevada, which remained on.
As Ragged Edge went to press, Colorado, Hawaii, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wyoming were still on the attorneys general brief. As we went to press, activists were concerned that in coming daysmore anti-rights amicus briefs would be filed.
at March Kevorkian trial
"Only people with disabilities can stop Kevorkian now," says Not Dead Yet founder Diane Coleman as the group prepares its protest at Kevorkian's murder trial. As Ragged Edge went to press, the trial was scheduled to begin March 1, and NDY was working to raise funds to support travel and personal assistance expenses. The group said it was looking for activists from the Midwest "to be the voice of the national disability community at this critical trial."
"NDY hopes to have a significant presence at the trial," says Coleman, "especially the first two or three days, and at the end, with some continuing presence throughout."
NDY held a two-day sit-in at Oakland County (Michigan) Prosecutor David Gorcyca's office immediately following the Nov. 22 60 Minutes showing of the Kevorkian tape of the pathologist killing Thomas Youk. When the prosecutor charged Kevorkian with murder, NDY vowed to return for the trial.
Says Coleman, "At the core of all these struggles is the question which society is asking itself: Would everyone else be better off without us? Since most others believe that the answer is a self-evident yes,' that it would be better if we did not exist, then how can society justify allocating scarce resources to us?"
"Most of Kevorkian's victims have been disabled, not terminal," says NDY. They say media doesn't report "the discrimination and oppression that drove each of them to despair."
Kevorkian's last completed trial, in 1996, involved his assisted suicides of two disabled women--Marjorie Wantz, "with a type of pelvic pain for which no physical cause could be found," Coleman said, and Sherry Miller, who, said Coleman, "lost custody of her children when she got MS, whose husband left her, and who was forced' to move in with her parents.
"Neither was terminally ill, both were disabled, like about two-thirds of his victims¾¾people like us," says Coleman. "No careful exploration of alternatives and safeguards. No suicide intervention or support. No advocacy for child custody, provision of needed personal assistance services."
"Our only chance to change this picture is that Not Dead Yet must be there again at the trial¾-in numbers too big to ignore," says Coleman "The whole world is watching what happens next."
"We must be at the trial in numbers that cannot be ignored--the Wallace Spolars who fear being forced into a rat-infested' nursing home, the Sherry Millers who lost a husband and custody of her children, the Roosevelt Dawsons, who never went home after their injuries. We must be there to tell the stories of his victims--our stories--and demand equal justice. In Kevorkian's previous trials we were absent, and jurors refused to convict. This is our Mississippi Burning, our Rodney King case."