Last week, the Supreme Court acquiesced to another attack on the voting rights of all Americans. In a 5-3 decision, the court blocked a trial judge’s ruling permitting Alabama counties to offer curbside voting as a reasonable accommodation to disabled voters.
People with disabilities represent over 95 percent of Covid-related deaths in Alabama. Now, they must risk their lives in order to exercise their constitutional rights. Howard Porter Jr. a Black plaintiff with asthma and Parkinson’s disease, testified in the case that many of his ancestors died to vote, but “while I don’t mind dying to vote, I think we’re past that — we’re past that time.”
Unfortunately, the Supreme Court disagreed — and with the arrival of Amy Coney Barrett, will likely continue to do so. But even in defeat, Merrill v. People First of Alabama highlights an important truth: Disability rights laws offer a powerful tool to advance civil rights for all Americans.