Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2016

Abstract

If there is one person who we can say is most responsible for the legal theory of the disability rights movement, that person is Jacobus tenBroek. Professor tenBroek was an influential scholar of disability law, whose writings in the 1960s laid the groundwork for the disability rights laws we have today. He was also an influential disability rights activist. He was one of the founders and the president for more than two decades of the National Federation of the Blind, one of the first-and for many years undisputedly the most effective-of the organizations made up of people with disabilities that fought for the rights of people with disabilities. Yet in the legal academy at large, Professor tenBroek is best known not for his disability law scholarship but for his other work-notably on poverty law (where he was a key legal architect of the welfare rights movement) and especially on the Fourteenth Amendment. The purpose of this essay is to bring together two of the important bodies of scholarship produced by Professor tenBroek. Professor tenBroek's disability law work is well known to disability rights activists andscholars, and his work on the Fourteenth Amendment is well known to constitutional scholars. But nobody has really brought the two lines of work together. Here, I'd like to do that. In particular, I'd like to show how tenBroek's important scholarship on the antislavery origins of the Fourteenth Amendment can help us to chart an agenda for the next 25 years of disability rights, just as tenBroek's scholarship on disability integrationism set the agenda for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and its first 25 years.


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