the advocacy monitor

Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Testimony of Liz Weintraub, Association of University Centers on Disability’s Senior Advocacy Specialist

Brett Kavanaugh Confirmation Hearings

Friday, September 7, 2018

GRASSLEY: Now Ms. Weintraub.

WEINTRAUB: Thank you, Chairman Grassley, Ranking Member Feinstein and the members of the committee for believing that I have something important to say about Judge Kavanaugh.

51 (ph) years ago, I was born with cerebral palsy and an intellectual disability. I entered a world that had low expectations for me and people like me. Judge Kavanaugh mentioned that he has the same low expectation, and I am here to tell you that he’s wrong.

I have achieved more than many thought possible for someone like me. I work full-time as a professional (inaudible) “Tuesdays with Liz,” a weekly YouTube series where I talk to people about policy in a way that people with intellectual disability can understand. You’re all invited to be my guests on “Tuesdays with Liz.”

Today I live with my husband who also happens to have a disability, and to — together we make our own decisions. It has not always been this way.

In my 20s, some professionals and my parents decided to put me into a private institution. My parents love me, but instead of treating me like an adult with opinions and preferences and asking what I wanted, they made the decision for me like I was a child. This was wrong.

In the (inaudible), there’s a saying that we hold very dear to our heart and that’s “Nothing about us without us.” This means that any decision that affects us should include us. We expect to be part of the conversation, even to lead the conversation. Self-determination is a basic human right for all people with disabilities. People with intellectual disabilities have opinions and preferences and they should be recognized.

Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination matters to me. (inaudible) the Does v. D.C. case made me very upset, because Judge Kavanaugh’s decision did not respect people’s rights and their freedom of choice. This is wrong.

The lower court in Does told the D.C. government it needed to ask people with intellectual disabilities if they want (inaudible) treatment. That requirement was (inaudible) people with disabilities.

Judge Kavanaugh had a chance to stand up for the rights of the women and the kids, but he failed. He said that the D.C. government did not even need to ask them what they wanted, but could decide for them what was going to happen to their bodies.

Would it have been too hard to ask — ask them what they wanted? Any adult deserves to be treated like a grown-up and have the right to be asked what they wanted, especially when it’s about their own body. If they needed support to — if they need support to understand and make an informed choice, then give it to them.

Our country is founded on liberty and justice for all, and all means all. I worry about a Supreme Court justice who doesn’t believe that we, as people with intellectual disabilities, can make decisions for ourselves. If Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed, I’m afraid that my right to make decisions for myself will be taken away.

I ask you, for myself and my community, when you vote on Judge Kavanaugh, please do not vote to turn the clock back and take the rights that I and others have fought for.

Thank you very much.

GRASSLEY: Thank you, Ms. — Ms. Weintraub.