The pandemic hasn’t slowed the DRNC team’s work. In fact, the dangers presented by COVID-19 have intensified our efforts. DRNC recently filed three federal lawsuits, demonstrating our use of litigation as an important tool in our determined legal advocacy for people with disabilities.
In one lawsuit, we are suing the Durham County Department of Social Services because they sent a disabled toddler in their care to an institution more than 100 miles away, rather than finding appropriate home care in the toddler’s community. “Children deserve families and homes, not just beds,” said DRNC Litigation Counsel Holly Stiles.
In another case, DRNC lawyers sued the Winston-Salem Police Department (WSPD) because its officers ordered a blind man to leave a store at Hanes Mall simply for being present with his guide dog, Forte. WSPD officers threatened to handcuff and arrest our client if he did not leave the store. “Civil rights are severely weakened when police departments treat blind shoppers as trespassers based on a store’s discriminatory desire to have them removed for using a guide dog,” said DRNC Attorney Chris Hodgson.
Voting rights are central to DRNC’s third recent lawsuit, in which we allege that North Carolina is violating federal voting rights by restricting who is allowed to assist voters with disabilities. This affects disabled voters across the state, including thousands who live in congregate settings such as hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities. “These barriers violate federal law and deny the dignity, autonomy and humanity of people with disabilities by preventing their full participation in a fundamental right in this country – the right to vote,” said DRNC CEO Virginia Knowlton Marcus. “This is un-American and unacceptable.”