Which of these things is not like the other?

William Rehnquist is the Chief Justice of the United States. He is also a cancer patient, who has been able to continue working with accomodations, which have presumably included time off for chemotherapy and radiation treatment, and the ability to keep his government job at will.

Patricia Garrett is the former Director of OB/GYN/Neonatal Services at Cooper Green Hospital, an Alabama state hospital. She was also a cancer patient, took no time off for chemotherapy and radiation treatment, and did not request any accomodations, but was nonetheless fired by her government employer.

Why did the firing of Patricia Garrett stand? Because Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote an opinion in her Supreme Court case, arguing that it was legitimate for state employers to undermine the ADA by conserving “scarce financial resources by hiring employees who are able to use existing facilities.”

Check out this Baltimore Sun op-ed piece: Rehnquist’s views argue for his removal, and Edge-Centric’s commentary.



  1. James Medhurst

    Another example of the ‘I’m alright Jack’ mentality. In the UK, our token blind cabinet minister seems to show no interest in enforcing the rights of other disabled people, apparently failing to realise that he would struggle to get fair treatment in almost any other job. Lucky for him, Tony Blair continues to employ him, despite an affair with a married woman and a visa scandal.

  2. mdmhvonpa

    I’ll give you another reason … nobody wants to deal with the appointment of a new Chief Justice right now … that, and you cant fire him either. He has to die or resign … tough boogers, eh?

  3. James Medhurst

    I’ve just discovered that the reason why judges are appointed for life is so they are independent of political influence. Unfortunately, it also means that they have no understanding of the real world in which people lose their jobs all the time for the most pathetic of reasons.


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