IL-ADD: An Open Letter to VOR
Illinois League of Advocates for the Developmentally Disabled
Nov. 2, 2015
We, in Illinois, do not accept the view promoted by ARC, nor our Protection &Advocacy agency (Equip for Equality) and other “community only” advocates, that the significance of the denial of the Preliminary Injunction at Murray Center and our Appeal, is that the State of Illinois can now close Murray Center, nor do we accept their view that the community is a much better option for everyone.
We never disputed the fact that the State can close any State Operated Developmental Center (SODC) and we recognize that no one has a right to any particular SODC- that is, however, if appropriate alternative services are available.
Our fight in Illinois is about choice, and it is a fight we are winning!
When we filed our lawsuit, guardians from facilities targeted for closure testified that, under the State Plan, they had not been provided the choices of appropriate care to which they were entitled, including the SODC level of care. Representatives of the State testified that guardians had never been denied all of the choices to which they were entitled. The judge believed the State. Nonetheless, in his ruling on the Preliminary Injunction, Judge Aspen affirmed the right of guardians to choose from appropriate options. Judge Posner, speaking for a three judge panel of the Seventh Circuit in his ruling on our Appeal, affirmed that guardians have the right to choose. The Seventh Circuit held that we did not meet the requirements for a Preliminary Injunction because, with choice clearly protected by law, with the State swearing under oath that choice is being provided, and with no current closure plan, there is no threat of irreparable harm to the plaintiffs, and therefore, no need for a preliminary injunction.
Whatever the trial court or appellate court opinion on the benefits of community services, they have clearly stated that the choice of placement is the guardian’s. Our case remains active, therefore, if choice is denied in another setting or under another closure plan, we can go back into Court to invoke the clear declaration of our right to choice which both the trial court declared and the appellate court affirmed.
In summary, to date:
•there is no current SODC closure list in Illinois;
•three of the four Centers targeted for closure under former Governor Quinn’s “Rebalancing Initiative” are still open and SODCs are accepting new admissions;
•one of those Centers is Murray, which Governor Rauner has promised to keep open;
•all who testified for the State and sought to implement the “one-size-fits-all” approach that called for all SODC residents to go to community settings lost their positions when Governor Quinn was defeated, but are now in similar positions in other states;
•hundreds of people with the most severe developmental disabilities who would have been “transitioned” are still in safe SODC placements.
When viewed in the correct perspective, this is a resounding victory for the Illinois community of guardians of people with developmental disabilities who are served in our SODCs.
President - Illinois League of Advocates for the Developmentally Disabled