Friday, October 14, 2011

Perlin on International Implications of Wyatt v. Stickney

Just published:  Michael L. Perlin, "Abandoned Love": The Impact of Wyatt v. Stickney on the Intersection Between International Human Rights and Domestic Mental Disability Law, 35 Law & Psychol. Rev. 121 (2011).  I can't find a free copy of the final version on the internet, but a draft appears on SSRN at this link.  From the introduction:

Wyatt v. Stickney is the most important institutional rights case litigated in the history of domestic mental disability law. It spawned copycat litigation in multiple federal district courts and state superior courts; it led directly to the creation of Patients' Bills of Rights in most states; and it inspired the creation of the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act, the Mental Health Systems Act Bill of Rights, and the federally-funded Protection and Advocacy System.  Its direct influence on the development of the right-to-treatment doctrine abated after the Supreme Court's disinclination, in its 1982 decision in Youngberg v. Romeo,  to find that right to be constitutionally mandated, but its historic role as a beacon and inspiration has never truly faded. It has been cited (at least) an astounding 411 times in domestic law journals. 
However, little has been written about the influence of Wyatt on the intersection between international human rights and mental disability law, an intersection whose importance has grown exponentially since the ratification of the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).  In this article, I begin a preliminary exploration of that influence, drawing four conclusions: 
(1) Although Wyatt has not been cited in foreign cases, respected commentators have articulated its importance.
(2) A study of important cases from international regional human rights tribunals reveals its impact, both on holdings and on court reasoning. 
(3) Relevant sections of the CRPD have been based on Wyatt's holdings and the institutional standards mandated by subsequent Wyatt orders. 
(4) It is not much of a reach to predict that, in another 40 years, Wyatt's influence on international human rights law will be seen as profound as (or as more profound than) its influence on domestic law.

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