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Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act Statement on Signing H.R. 10 Into Law.

May 23, 1980

I am very pleased today to sign into law the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act.

This act will give the Attorney General the authority to initiate lawsuits against any public institution—such as a mental hospital, a long-term care facility, or a prison—that systematically violates the rights of the people confined there. The extensive record established through many days of hearings in the Congress shows that, to our national shame, there are still instances of grave mistreatment of the very people who need our special concern most, because their confinement makes them so vulnerable.

This legislation will ensure that when negotiation, consultation, and other attempts to bring about voluntary corrective action by State officials have failed, the Attorney General, in the name of the United States, will be able to seek relief in a Federal court for violation of the rights of persons confined in publicly run and financed institutions that abuse those rights on a widespread basis.

At a time when this Nation has reaffirmed its commitment to basic human rights around the world, it is fitting and proper to promote the protection of human rights here at home.

In signing this bill, I want to emphasize my position, and that of the Attorney General, that the provision in section 7(b) subjecting the Attorney General's model standards for State prisoner administrative remedies to a legislative veto is unconstitutional under Article I, § 7, of the Constitution insofar as it deprives the President of the opportunity to veto congressional action that has the effect of law. The Attorney General will transmit his standards to Congress as required by § 7(b) and will wait 30 legislative days before implementing them. Although the Attorney General will carefully consider any congressional views that are expressed regarding the standards, he will not treat any resolution of "disapproval" as binding.

I want to commend all of those in the Congress who worked so diligently for many years to see this legislation enacted. It came about through the efforts of many persons who hold a wide diversity of views on many subjects, but put aside those differences while working together on this very important issue.

Note: As enacted, H.R. 10 is Public Law 96247, approved May 23.

Jimmy Carter, Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act Statement on Signing H.R. 10 Into Law. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/251042

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