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1990 January

The Supreme Court and Employment Discrimination

By Paul Holtzman, James C. Gray Jr. & Stephen L. Spitz

This article analyzes nine recent employment discrimination cases decided by the Supreme Court; the Court has eliminated several key procedural and substantive protections for plaintiffs with the result that this area of the law is no longer settled or predictable.

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Mental Disability Law Developments

By The Mental Health Law Project

Two state supreme courts have recently recognized the statutory right of people with mental disabilities to community services, while litigation in federal courts continues to result in reductions in institutional populations; in addition, there has been considerable litigation concerning the validity of local health, safety, zoning, and land use regulations since the Fair Housing Amendments Act became effective.

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Migrant Law Developments

By The Migrant Legal Action Program

This article covers recent litigation brought under the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act, as well as developments with respect to the use of pesticides, occupational safety and health, income transfer programs, the temporary foreign worker program, migrant education, and other issues affecting the farmworker community.

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Family Law Developments

By Joan Pennington

Although battered women have encountered a backlash in order of protection cases this year, state battered women's laws have continued to withstand constitutional challenge; the past year also saw significant developments in child support and child support enforcement as federal legislation began to be implemented.

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Consumer and Energy Law Developments

By The National Consumer Law Center

In consumer law this year, the Truth in Lending Act was expanded to provide disclosure and substantive requirements for home equity loans, and courts upheld consumer claims on hidden finance charges and insurance packing; in energy law, as oil overcharge funds declined drastically, more and more states sought ways to better target existing and to marshal additional resources toward energy assistance and weatherization efforts.

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Congressional Developments in Disability Law

By Sy DuBow & Karen Peltz Strauss

In 1988, numerous federal bills were passed that will enable deaf individuals to achieve equality and independence in the mainstream of society; the Americans with Disabilities Act, if passed, will ban discrimination against disabled persons in employment, public accommodations, public services, transportation, and telecommunications by private businesses and state and local governments.

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Community Economic Development at Work

By The National Economic Development and Law Center

The year 1989 marked significant revisions in the Community Reinvestment Act and the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act; these changes will result in access by individuals and organizations to additional information about the level of investment by financial institutions in their communities, and will improve the opportunities for nonprofit organizations to develop needed affordable housing.

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Medical Treatment for the Elderly and Disabled

By The National Legal Center for the Medically Dependent and Disabled

Cases involving eligibility of children with disabilities for SSI benefits and a guardian's authority to withhold nutrition and hydration from a permanently disabled, but not terminally ill, ward are currently pending before the Supreme Court; state courts continue to examine the rights of competent and incompetent patients to forgo life-sustaining treatment.

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Youth Law Developments in 1989

By The National Center for Youth Law

During last year, the Supreme Court held that children not in the custody of the state do not have a constitutional claim against social workers for failing to protect them from abuse; in the area of foster care, state and federal courts have increasingly begun to require protective services agencies to comply with reasonable efforts requirements of the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act.

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Recent Veterans' Law Developments

By The National Veterans Legal Services Project

In 1989, Congress elevated the Veterans Administration to cabinet-level status, renaming the agency the Department of Veterans Affairs; in addition, major changes in the access of veterans to federal courts and to attorneys were brought about by implementation of the Veterans' Judicial Review Act, and disbursements through the Agent Orange Payment Program were begun.

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Welfare Law Developments

By The Center on Social Welfare Policy and Law

Litigation during the past year addressed many issues in the AFDC program, including inadequate benefits, burdensome procedures, improper enforcement of child support cooperation requirements, and erroneous distribution of child support collections; in addition, the Family Support Act of 1988 made a variety of changes in welfare law.

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Employment Law Developments

By Elizabeth Hough & Jim Williams

During its 1988-89 Term, the Supreme Court decided several cases affecting employment law, including a series of Title VII employment discrimination cases, as well as cases involving a municipal affirmative action plan. the use of section 1981 as a means of combating employment discrimination, the range of possible defendants under section 1983, employee drug testing, and vacation benefits and ERISA.

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Prison Law Developments

By Ruthanne DeWolfe

Our prisons and jails are severely overcrowded and the consequences of this overcrowding-increased brutality, structural deterioration, intolerable living conditions-are expected to continue to escalate without relief.

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Federal Housing Law Developments

By The National Housing Law Project

Tenants achieved significant victories last year in cases challenging denials of applications for tenancy due to marital status, the definition of "income" for purposes of the Brooke Amendment, rent recertification procedures following a decrease in income, evictions, and landlords' failure to repair.

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Elder Law Developments

By The National Senior Citizens Law Center

Although the bulk of the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act was repealed late last year, Congress also considered other legislation affecting the elderly, including proposals for a separate administrative review system for Medicare cases, changes in the reimbursement formula for Medicare-covered services, and amendments to COBRA.

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Health Care for the Poor

By The National Health Law Program

In 1989, RCFA and the states began implementing Medicaid expansions mandated by the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act, Hill-Burton administrative decisions adverse to clients continued almost unabated, and several states passed or implemented initiatives to protect the medically uninsured, while courts expanded protection for indigent patients under the federal anti dumping statute.

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