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American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia Records - Guide to Selected Case Files: Disability Rights

The ACLU of Georgia's records are housed at the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies. This guide provides further description about the cases litigated by the ACLU of Georgia which are best documented in the records.


Despite the prevalence of federal and state law prohibiting discrimination against individuals with mental and physical disabilities, those living with disabilities still face a unique set of challenges. Through litigation and legislative campaigns, the ACLU of Georgia works to ensure that the rights of this population are protected.


Hightower v. Ledbetter, circa 1995-1998

General Description: Forced Medication

Summary of the Issues Involved: A group of patients at a state-operated mental health facility filed this class action challenging the unlawful administration of psychotropic medications without consent. Under Georgia law, mental health facilities were permitted to administer medications without consent when physicians concluded that refusal would be unsafe to the patient and others. The district court upheld the state policy, finding that the forced medication did not violate plaintiffs’ substantive and procedural due process rights. The case was also known as Hightower v. Olmstead.


Sierra Club v. Georgia Department of Transportation

General Description: City Planning and Access to Transportation

Summary of the Issues Involved: The ACLU of Georgia brought this case on  behalf of plaintiffs challenging the Atlanta Regional Transportation Plan on the grounds that it failed to take into consideration the transportation needs of minorities, the elderly, and those living with disabilities.


Straight, Inc. Treatment Procedures and Services

General Description: Substance Abuse Treatment Center Abuse

Summary of the Issues Involved: The ACLU of Georgia filed a lawsuit and launched an investigation on behalf of the plaintiff, a woman allegedly held against her will and abused at Straight, Inc. The lawsuit argued the Marietta, Georgia-based treatment facility violated the fundamental rights of its patients by engaging in such practices.