On July 26, 1990, when George Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), he did so with a deep sense of excitement and ceremony. The President regarded the law as a benevolent gesture that would pay enormous electoral dividends regardless. The law matches a long historical tradition in this regard. However, as in other types of social security law, the electoral dividends were not received by the President and his party. In the President's opinion, as a force of integration, the ADA took civil rights law back to its original promise, not as a form of preferential care that amounted to segregation. It made as much sense for President Bush to support the ADA according to this construction of the topic as it did for conservative Republican Everett Dirksen to back the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Republicans showed vital leadership in both circumstances, and rendered the difference between success and loss.
James Brady contributed an op-ed article for the New York Times, which made the case for the ADA as a Conservative piece of law, right in the midst of the battle for the ADA. First, after the attack on the life of the President, Brady, former Press Secretary to President Reagan and a widely visible supporter of the disability rights community had involuntarily taken him into that position, noted that he was a Republican and a fiscal conservative. Second, he shared his satisfaction that a coalition he described as '15 Republicans named by President Reagan to the National Council on Disability' had created the law. Third, he pointed to a longstanding history of Republican advocacy for disability rights. He clarified that President Eisenhower encouraged individuals with disabilities to become taxpayers and customers instead of relying on expensive government services.
Two recent civil rights reforms were more direct constitutional antecedents of the ADA than the career rehabilitation programme. A historical calculation could explain the creation of the ADA: The 1964 Civil Rights Act plus the 1973 Recovery Act equaled the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act. The 1964 legislation defined targets for the disability rights movement to accomplish by establishing the fundamental terms of civil rights law in America. Simply stated, persons with disabilities wished to achieve equity with blacks and women, and what these other ethnic groups had achieved was established by the 1964 legislation, rather than another single statute. The 1973 legislation offered the same rights as Title VI of the 1964 legislation for persons with disabilities (affecting recipients of assistance from federal programmes).