If you heard of the 1999 U.S. Supreme Court case Olmstead vs. LC, LC stands for her.

Lois has an intellectual disability and was forced into an institution at age 11 years, Georgia Regional Hospital. She fought to be released to live in the community but was denied, until an attorney from Atlanta reviewed the case and took the case to trial, going against defendant Tommy Olmstead (commissioner of the Georgia Department of Human Resources) in 1995. Another woman also institutionalized was later added to the case, Elaine Wilson (who passed away in 2004). In May 1997 a decision was made that that the Georgia Department of Human Resources and Regional Hospital failed to place her in adequate housing. The departments appealed in 1998 leading to the U.S. Supreme Court June 22, 1999; where the late Judge Ruth Bader-Ginsburg ruled it was unconstitutional for Curtis to be forced to stay in the mental institution when she could live in the community.

“On June 22, 1999, the United States Supreme Court held in Olmstead v. L.C. that unjustified segregation of persons with disabilities constitutes discrimination in violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Court held that public entities must provide community-based services to persons with disabilities when (1) such services are appropriate; (2) the affected persons do not oppose community-based treatment; and (3) community-based services can be reasonably accommodated, taking into account the resources available to the public entity and the needs of others who are receiving disability services from the entity.”

“The Olmstead decision has been called the most important civil rights decision in the history of the United States for disabled people.”

Lois Curtis is a passionate artist and has completed several portraits, one she gave in 2011 to former President Obama for the 12th anniversary of the Olmstead vs. LC decision. She continues to be a strong advocate for equal access and supports for individuals with disabilities.

Read more at https://www.ada.gov/olmstead/olmstead_about.htm.

Black History Month: Lois Curtis Artist And Disability Advocate Paved The Way

Sue, Lois, and Elaine

Lois Curtis on Life After Olmstead