Amtrak, the Obama DOJ, and the ADA, a closer look

In this post, I reported that, thanks to the Trump Justice Department, Amtrak will no longer discriminate against the disabled. That’s because the Trump DOJ filed suit against the Amtrak. As a result, the company reached an agreement with the Justice Department to make its train stations accessible, as well as to provide training to staff on ADA requirements.

The successful action against Amtrak is an example of how, under President Trump, the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, led by Eric Dreiband, vigorously enforced federal civil rights laws on behalf of all groups protected by these laws. I presented quantitative evidence of this fact here.

In the Amtrak post, I compared the Trump DOJ’s response to the company’s discrimination against the disabled with that of the Obama DOJ. I stated, “the Obama administration wasn’t interested in taking action against Amtrak.” I also said, “when Vanita Gupta, Biden’s new associate attorney general nominee, headed the civil rights division, it did nothing to enforce the ADA against the perennially non-compliant Amtrak.”

This overstates things a little. As can been seen here, the Obama DOJ opened an investigation of Amtrak following the receipt of complaints in 2011 and 2012. And in 2016, under Gupta, the DOJ issued a letter of findings notifying Amtrak of its non-compliance with the ADA.

But this record — opening an “investigation” in 2011, issuing a letter of findings years later, and leaving office without having forced compliance — hardly constitutes taking effective action to bring Amtrak into compliance. Congress set a deadline for Amtrak: 2010. That deadline was not onerous. It gave Amtrak two decades after the 1990 enactment of the ADA to comply. When Amtrak failed to meet this deadline, the Obama DOJ should not have let things slide.

Why such a lengthy gap between the beginning of the investigation and the letter? Amtrak plainly did not comply with its statutory obligations and, as I understand it, never even claimed otherwise. This was not a complex white collar fraud scheme that required sorting through complicated records.

In sum, the Obama administration had six years after the 2010 statutory deadline to bring Amtrak into compliance or to sue. It did neither.

Thus, what I should have written in my original post is that the Obama DOJ wasn’t much interested in taking action against Amtrak and that, under Gupta, it did very little to enforce the ADA against the perennially non-compliant company.

I’m happy to make this correction to my post. It would be nice if Gupta and her fellow leftists would correct their dishonest claims about the Trump DOJ’s record. That won’t happen, though.

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