Sunday, February 16, 2014

Greg Abbott's self-loathing demonstrated in his ADA litigation

Attorney General Greg Abbott, who has said he supports the Americans with Disabilities Act, has tenaciously battled to block the courthouse door to disabled Texans who sue the state.

In a series of legal cases in his three terms, Abbott’s office has fought a blind pharmacy professor in Amarillo who wanted reflective tape on the stairs to her office; two deaf defendants in Laredo who asked for a qualified sign language interpreter in their courtroom; and a woman with an amputated leg. In that case, the state argued she was not disabled because she had a prosthetic limb.

Abbott, who has used a wheelchair since a tree fell on him while he was jogging and crushed his spine almost 30 years ago, applauds the 1990 federal law. It has helped provide the ramps, wide doors and access that allow him to give speeches and meet with constituents.

Unspeakable, isn't it?  In his defense, Abbott says he's just doing his job.

While Abbott, the leading Republican contender for governor, benefits from the ADA mandates that guide businesses, builders and cities, he believes it is unconstitutional to force the state to comply. He has argued that his duty is to protect the state’s autonomy and its taxpayers by using all legal tools available to him — including the argument that the state is immune from disability lawsuits brought under the ADA.

“It’s the attorney general’s duty to zealously represent the interests of the state of Texas, and in these cases that meant raising all applicable legal arguments in litigation where Texas was sued in court,” said Abbott spokesman Jerry Strickland.

I'm sure he thought he was just doing his job when he advocated for tort reform, in order to deny all future Texans the legal bootstraps that he pulled himself up by after he ran under that tree.

Advocates for the disabled say Abbott’s office has worked to deny ADA protections by repeatedly and falsely claiming that impaired Texans don’t have the right to sue the state for discrimination. Abbott declined several requests from The Dallas Morning News to discuss the matter.

It touches on two key elements of Abbott’s campaign to succeed Gov. Rick Perry. He is touting his record of defending conservative legal principles. But Abbott also is highlighting his disability as evidence of his toughness. In campaign speeches and videos, he notes that he has “literally, a spine of steel” as a result of the accident.

There's a difference between being tough and being mean, just as there is a difference between a spine of steel and a titanium spinal implant.  'Tough' isn't the proper word to describe Abbott; 'cruel' is.  One example.

For former Texas Tech University Health Sciences professor Elaine King Miller, who was suffering a degenerative eye disease, the question was whether the university would provide her, among other things, reflective tape on the stairway and voice-recognition software for typing on her computer.

It took a five-year legal fight with the state. In 2005, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals cleared the way for her to pursue a discrimination suit.

Another example.

...In 2004, it argued before the Texas Supreme Court that a woman with one leg could not claim disability discrimination because she wore a prosthesis that remedied her mobility.

The all-Republican court rejected the argument, issuing a unanimous, written opinion just three weeks later. The court usually considers cases for months, even years.

The most bizarre disclosure in the article is that Abbott frequently loses his requests to have the cases dismissed on sovereign immunity... but frequently wins them when they go to trial.

You would think any sensible barrister would eventually come to the conclusion that he could just let the cases be tried on their merits.  Not Greg Abbott.  Besides being a lousy lawyer and a sorry individual, and like most people who at some basic level are both stupid and cruel... he's stubborn.

Dennis Borel, executive director of the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, said that advocates’ frustration stems from Abbott’s office consistently seeking immunity for Texas agencies, regardless of the claim.

“When you invoke the sovereign immunity defense, you’re not responding to the merits of the case,” he said. “You’re simply saying the state is immune for its violations of the ADA and therefore there’s not even a point of having a day in court.”

Brian East, senior attorney for Texas Disability Rights, said the repeated efforts to raise sovereign immunity against the disabled cuts off the chance to fix problems.

“I wouldn’t say they were hostile,” East said of the attorney general’s legal team. “They are hostile to the notion that individual citizens might have redress against the state, in general. They are not targeting people with disabilities specifically, but doing what they can to limit the rights of individuals to use the courts in civil rights cases against the state.”

It's really difficult to understand how Greg Abbott -- as a man, as a human being with a semblance of conscience -- is able to live with himself.  There's simply no amount of psychological counseling, or prayer, or whatever you want to call it that can resolve these inner conflicts.  It just winds up manifesting itself as some kind of internal and/or external rage and hatred.

The man is so reprehensible that people with a functioning soul can't comprehend his motivations.  Which naturally excludes the vast majority of Texas Republican primary voters.

Abbott's ego and self-importance -- I'm sure he just thinks of it as his destiny -- has completely consumed his conscience.  That minor annoyance was sacrificed on the altar of his political aspirations many years ago.   And yet he is surrounded by sycophants who believe he is honorable, decent, "God-fearing", and every manner of similarly happy horseshit.

This is the deepest, most disturbed, most profound cognitive dissonance on public display I can say I have ever witnessed.  It's hard to predict how truly hideous a governor Greg Abbott is capable of being in the wake of fourteen years of Rick Perry, but Texans are very likely to find out.

Unless something really unforeseen happens, that is.


Katy Anders said...

This is really pretty damning. Thank you for posting it!

Gadfly said...

Pulling the ladder up after himself. Interesting that a lot of conservatives with special backgrounds have done this.

Paging Clarence Thomas!