Sometimes—usually when it's at its best—the law is about giving a voice to the voiceless. And one Michigan Law professor who understands that concept well was just honored for his work protecting the rights of disabled people while helping lead the Justice Department.
Professor Samuel Bagenstos received the Bethesda Voices Public Policy Award for his work ensuring disabled people live and receive services in the most integrated settings possible. The honor was given by Bethesda Lutheran Communities, an advocacy and service organization for developmentally disabled people that's based in Wisconsin and has service locations around the country. Bagenstos earned the award during his stint as principal deputy attorney general in the Civil Rights Division.
"It's very flattering to receive this award," Bagenstos said. "It helps us remember that people with disabilities are just like all the rest of us. They have the right to make choices about their lives: when to go to bed, whether to turn the lights out, when to have dinner, and whom to have it with."
In the award citation, Bethesda said Bagenstos reinvigorated enforcement of civil rights laws for those with disabilities, while serving in the Civil Rights Division between 2009 and 2011. He was on leave from his teaching duties at Michigan at the time. Bagenstos had long studied the law as it affects the rights of the disabled, but the work took on extra meaning for him when his son was born with a developmental disability.
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