Eve Hill, partner at Brown, Goldstein & Levy and one of the country’s leading disability rights attorneys, spoke to TIME to discuss the recent federal lawsuit challenging Virginia Governor Youngkin’s Executive Order 2. Youngkin’s order bars schools from requiring students to wear masks and puts students with disabilities in serious risk.
Brown, Goldstein & Levy alongside the ACLU of Virginia, the Washington Lawyers’ Committee, the disAbility Law Center of Virginia, and Arnold & Porter, filed the lawsuit on behalf of 12 students with disabilities in Virginia’s public schools. These students are more susceptible to severe illness if they contract COVID-19. Their conditions include cancer, cystic fibrosis, moderate to severe asthma, Down syndrome, lung conditions, and weakened immune systems.
The lawsuit argues that Executive Order 2 violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by essentially excluding students with disabilities from public schools and forcing their parents to make an impossible choice between their children’s education and their health and safety. According to the lawsuit, the Order places unlawful barriers to education access for students with disabilities, ultimately preventing them from being present in public schools. The lawsuit asks for a permanent injunction prohibiting implementation of Executive Order 2. Find full case information here.
In recent months, parents in Texas, South Carolina and Iowa have filed lawsuits similar to the Virginia parents’ case, but judges so far have ruled inconsistently. Parents in other states where face covering mandates are banned will likely look to this Virginia case for a precedent-setting decision.