News Releases

 WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) – co-chairs of the Congressional Down Syndrome Task Force – today introduced legislation that would update the District of Columbia (D.C.) Code by eliminating the words “mentally retarded” and replacing it with language that better respects the dignity of individuals with disabilities. 
 
In 2010, Congress passed Rosa’s Law which eliminated the word “mental retardation” from federal law. However, Title 11 of the D.C. Code still uses various forms of those words. The Words Matter for the District of Columbia Courts Act would replace the term with “persons of moderate intellectual disabilities.”
 
“Individuals with disabilities deserve to be respected and valued,” said Sen. Moran. “Language that is degrading to individuals with disabilities should be eliminated from our laws and courts. This legislation makes certain the D.C. courts are using language that is both accurate and appropriate and maintains the dignity of all people.”
 
“As public officials, we have an obligation to uplift people with disabilities and ensure they are treated with dignity and respect,” said Sen. Casey. “I’m proud to join with Senator Moran on this bipartisan bill to remove derogatory language from our laws and courts, and am committed to continuing to fight on behalf of Americans with disabilities.”

Under the D.C. Home Rule Act, only Congress can amend Title 11 of the D.C. Code. Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-N.Y.) and cosponsored by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Ore.). Congresswoman Holmes Norton and Rep. McMorris Rodgers are co-chairs of the Congressional Task Force on Down Syndrome.
 
This legislation is also supported by the National Down Syndrome Society, National Down Syndrome Congress, Global Down Syndrome Foundation, Association of University Centers on Disabilities, National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities and Special Olympics.  
 
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