Sunday, August 1

An attorney on the 20th anniversary of the ADA

Walter Olson is an attorney who often calls attention to the absolute insanity of current laws, lawsuits and verdicts. A few days ago he mused on the 20th anniversary of the "Americans with Disabilities Act."

Olson noted that despite it being responsible for some of the most ghastly judgments imaginable, the ADA has been essentially immune from criticism--because its supporters treat critics of the act as if they are personally attacking the people it protects.

Thus, says Olson, a firestorm is guaranteed if one tries to seriously discuss the money-driven ADA “filing mills” in California, Florida and other states--under which complainants roam the land filing hundreds of similar complaints against local businesses. The lawyers for these firms then convert these claims into cash settlements in assembly-line fashion.

Now, no one doubts that the ADA has done a lot of good. But there's also little doubt that the Act has generated a huge number of extreme judgments. As always with absolutist, sledgehammer laws, the Law of Unintended Consequences will operate. One wonders whether some other method could have achieved the good results with a tenth as much waste and legal fees.

I certainly don't know if that's possible, but we've seen enough examples of "sledgehammer" laws from congresses to believe that those folks really don't have a clue about Unintended Consequences. A lot of that cluelessness is due to the fact that members of Congress are never affected by the killer wheels they set in motion.


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