President Obama’s Department of Justice — led by Attorney General Eric Holder — has found a new way to make the Americans with Disabilities Act pay off for Democratic trial lawyer campaign donors.
Since the ADA first became law in 1990, the DOJ has been issuing “guidelines” that businesses must follow to comply with a multitude of the nation’s civil rights laws.
For example, if a restaurant bathroom has a light switch that is 52 inches above the floor, then that business is in compliance. But if the light switch is 53 inches above the floor, the restaurant owner is a civil rights violator subject to fines from the government and liable for civil damages from any disabled individual who ever used the bathroom.
The DOJ has been issuing a growing wave of such guidelines over the years, reaching an ever larger portion of business activities. In September 2010, the DOJ issued guidelines for “recreational facilities,” including a new rule that all public access swimming pools must provide a lift capable of moving disabled patrons from their wheelchairs into the water.
Compliance with the rule requires pool owners to have a lift for each “water element” in their facility. So if your local community pool also has a spa, both the spa and the pool must be “accessible.” But if you have two spas, don’t worry, only one lift is required.
Such legislation also creates new jobs for government inspectors and new opportunities for bakshish and politically motivated prosecutions.
Will we be surprised to discover some Obama donor owns a company that makes these devices? No.