Greg Abbott is the attorney general of the state of Texas, and -- alas -- the likely next governor of the state. He's the guy who described his typical workday as follows: "I go into the office, I sue the federal government and I go home."
He's also disabled -- paralyzed since a tree fell on him back in 1984. But as The New York Times reports today, disability-rights advocates aren't all on his side, because, among other things, he thinks the Americans with Disabilities Act -- championed and signed by Texas's own President George H.W. Bush in 1990 -- is unconstitutional.
In 2003, in response to a lawsuit filed against the state over the waiting lists for disabled services, Mr. Abbott and lawyers in the attorney general's office argued that a central provision of the law was unconstitutional. The section of the law that requires state and local governments to make public services and programs accessible to people with disabilities, they argued, was "an impermissible federal mandate," in violation of the 10th Amendment, which limits federal power.So, um, does Greg Abbott do anything as a Texas government official to help fellow disabled people?
"Our main goal is the integration of people into the community, and the foundation of that is the Americans with Disabilities Act," said Mr. Kafka, an organizer with the Texas chapter of Adapt, a disability rights group. "He continually fights against any kind of federal control."
Oh yes, say his supporters. He makes certain locations in Texas more accessible to the disabled -- by making public appearances at them:
Many [disabled Texans] support [Abbott], describing him as a role model who has helped Texas become more accessible, as the managers and administrators of hotels, restaurants, courthouses and other buildings have installed ramps and made other accommodations to host Mr. Abbott over the years....So if you want more wheelchair access in Texas, just limit yourself to destinations where Greg Abbott has made a personal appearance! Simply avoid destinations where he hasn't delivered a speech! Or become attorney general yourself! Then you'll get accessibility improvements wherever you go!
Mr. Abbott said he has created more opportunity for the disabled "than anyone in Texas has" -- including those hotels and other facilities where he has appeared that were once inaccessible.
"I've opened doors for the disabled in ways that no lawyer who brings lawsuits ever will be able to," Mr. Abbott said. "By the fact that people see me on a stage, people see me fight and rise to the highest echelons in Texas government. That shows that anyone with a disability doesn't have to hide behind some lawyer who's going to be representing them."
That's the conservative solution to the problems of the disabled!