Dear Honorable Chief Justices –
Last year when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of corporate personhood allowing the formation of SuperPACs, I must admit I was disappointed. Yet, in the current argument against the Healthcare Reform, it certainly is instructive.
Businesses have similar rights and responsibilities as citizens. And at the same time these businesses have been mandated to buy products and services to meet compliance to the ADA. My company has a long wheelchair ramp that was installed to a door. We also have an elevator that rarely is used in our two-story building, and I recently heard an executive discussing the need to invest in services that would make our website accessible. While we are a corporation, my father-in-law owns a small business as a sole proprietorship that also must follow these laws. As the building owner, he must ensure its public accessibility. Because I have a daughter with a disability, I often get disability updates from the White House explaining how they are taking legal action against various non-compliant companies. In short, our Federal Government is making it compulsorily for business owners to buy goods and services that help minimize discrimination or segregation of a minority population.
While I am not a fan of the personal mandate, I am very much a fan of it allowing my child to participate in private health care by eliminating the exclusion for pre-existing conditions. She has never done anything that should give a company the right to blatantly discriminate against her. Her “pre-existing condition” is not due to carelessness or reckless action, but is simply a part of the natural variety of life. Just like the person in a wheel chair who can now work in many more locations, access to affordable private insurance would give my daughter the opportunity to participate in the equal protection under the law that previously rung hollow for her.
Each year my company pays for maintenance to our accessible features of our real estate and website. And each year we develop a budget that passes those costs along to our customers and shareholders. Each year, all of us citizens are paying, directly or indirectly, for accessibility products and services that the Federal Government has successfully mandated for decades. We do it because it is legal and we do it because it is the right thing to do, but most importantly, we do it because without it we could not protect the true promise of what it means to be an American – starting with equal protection under the law. If a grocery store refused to sell my daughter food, we would not tolerate it. Heath care is every bit as vital for her, and yet we allow private companies to discriminate against her and push that cost onto the tax payers. Forcing people to buy health insurance in order to ensure a non-discriminating policy is a logical extension of the ADA framework.