Faculty in the News

Ruth Colker Media Hits

The following is a list of selected media coverage for Ruth Colker. The links below will direct you to sites that are not affiliated with the Moritz College of Law. They are subject to change, and some may expire or require registration as time passes.


Local woman sues 5 businesses over ADA violation claims

April 9, 2017

Professor Ruth Colker was quoted in a Times Herald-Record article about a quadriplegic woman who is suing five local businesses claiming that they violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Among her claims: inaccessible soap and paper towel dispensers and exposed hot drain pipes under sinks at several restaurants.

“These accessibility rules are not especially onerous—they’re common-sense stuff like making sure a hot pipe is covered under a sink so someone in a wheelchair doesn’t get burned, which isn’t trivial,” Colker said. “But businesses have been sitting on their hands for 27 years [since the ADA was passed in 1990].”

The ADA was designed with lawsuits in mind as the primary means of enforcement, Colker added, noting that without damages, fee reimbursements would be an attorney’s only incentive to take an ADA-related case.

“The statute has not been a cash cow. It’s difficult to make a living doing ADA work,” she said. “Courts are often hostile to the underlying claims, and there are not a lot of people out there handing out a business card saying they do this for a living.”

No: Anti-immigrant approach stokes hate, solves no pressing problems

March 2, 2017

An op-ed by Professor Ruth Colker about President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration executive orders was syndicated through the Tribune News Service, reaching more than 7 million estimated readers.

“Like building a wall along the Mexican border, devoting additional resources to deporting people who pose no risk to American security is expensive and wasteful. Rather than squander money on a huge deportation force, we need to find a constructive path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, who are the backbone of the farming, construction and high-tech industries,” Colker writes. “More fundamentally, the executive orders fly in the face of the bedrock American value of offering refuge to those ‘yearning to breathe free.’”

Colker’s op-ed, “No: Anti-immigrant approach stokes hate, solves no pressing problems,” was published in more than 10 news outlets nationwide, including USA TODAY, The Sacramento Bee, and the Post-Bulletin. 

Defend it, don’t defund it: Planned Parenthood does good work

January 18, 2017

An op-ed written by Professor Ruth Colker about Congressional Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood was syndicated through the Tribune News Service. She examines the potential ramifications of denying federal funds to the organization. 

“This morally bankrupt strategy imperils a basic lifeline for health care services in many poor communities, because Planned Parenthood has an outstanding track record in providing life-saving health care screenings,” Colker writes. “It also imperils many women’s access to contraception, even though the overwhelming majority of Americans believe contraception should be legal and readily available. Moreover, this strategy is blatantly unconstitutional. Congress cannot constitutionally single out one health care provider as ineligible for any federal reimbursement for its services merely because Congress disapproves of the provider also spending non-federal dollars on abortions.”

Colker’s op-ed, “Defend it, don't defund it: Planned Parenthood does good work,” was ultimately published in more than 25 publications around the country including The Arizona Republic, Detroit Free Press, The Sacramento Bee, The Indianapolis Star, and The Tennessean.

Abortion bans unlikely to receive court support

December 12, 2016

Professor Ruth Colker was quoted in the Dayton Daily News about two abortion bills in Ohio that await Gov. John Kasich’s signature. One would ban abortions after the presence of a fetal heartbeat (typically around the sixth week of pregnancy), while the other would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks.

Colker described the fetal heartbeat bill as “dead on arrival” before the Supreme Court. "[J]ustice Anthony Kennedy seems pretty committed to abortion rights,” she said.



How the Supreme Court could change during Trump's presidency

November 9, 2016

Professor Ruth Colker was quoted in WBNS-10TV about the Supreme Court's vacant seat and how issues like gay marriage and affirmative action could be impacted by a new justice.

“Overturning Roe versus Wade is a pretty radical step, it’s been on the books since 1973,” Colker said. “I think we can expect the court to approve more restrictions on abortion. Were Trump to get two appointments on the court, would affirmative action be declared unconstitutional? I can well imagine that.”

An Autistic Girl in the Cumberland Mountains: One Family’s Brutal Fight for Meaningful Special Ed

October 10, 2016

Professor Ruth Colker was quoted by the The 74 in an article about one family's struggle in the Cumberland Mountains to secure meaningful special education for their autistic 12-year-old daughter. 

in 1982 the U.S. Supreme Court determined that a federal law that stipulated that every disabled child is entitled to a free “appropriate” public education in the “least restrictive environment” -- also known as the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) -- did not include a “substantive standard,” only that schools provide “some” benefit, a “floor of opportunity.” "IDEAhas been one of the nation’s most-litigated federal statutes because no plan for a child is innately 'appropriate,'" the article states. 

Colker told The 74 that while any plan can be disputed through mediation and due process, most families can’t afford to engage in such battles. School districts with larger low-income populations often are unable to provide programs afforded to children in middle-class and affluent school districts.

Professor Colker dicusses Fisher v. University of Texas on The John Hines Show

June 23, 2016

Professor Ruth Colker discussed the outcome of Fisher v. University of Texas, a case before the Supreme Court examining the affirmative action admissions policy of the University of Texas at Austin, on The John Hines Show on WCCO CBS Minnesota.

Latest Supreme Court Case Could Effect Ohio Abortion Laws

March 2, 2016

Professor Ruth Colker was featured on WOSU Radio, where she discussed what's been called the biggest Supreme Court case on the issue of abortion in 24 years: Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt:

OSU Law professor Ruth Colker, says the impact of this decision will really come down to how the court defines “undue Burden” stated in the landmark 1992 Supreme Court case of Casey V. Planned Parenthood

“So the question in this case is whether these kinds of regulations conflict with that re-understanding of Roe and Casey,” said Colker. “Whether these are an undue burden on a woman's ability to choose terminate her pregnancy.”

If the justices strike down the Texas laws, Ohio laws could be challenged, but Colker said with the recent passing of Justice Scalia, she doesn’t think that’s likely to happen.

“So it’s of potential dramatic importance, but I’m not going to hold my breath. I just don’t think the court’s going to be inclined with only eight members to do something dramatic right now,” Coker explained.

The Life and Influence of Justice Antonin Scalia

February 18, 2016

Professor Ruth Colker appeared on All Sides with Ann Fisher to discuss the legacy of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Gay rights fight shifts to anti-discrimination laws

June 28, 2015

Professor Ruth Colker was quoted in an article in The Dallas Morning News about gay rights activists' fight to obtain federal, state, and local legal protections in employment, housing, commerce, and other arenas. Colker explained that in many states, some local governments have anti-discrimination laws, but they are often weak or poorly enforced.

“Typically, the penalty for violating a city ordinance is more akin to a traffic violation,” she said. “State-level penalties can be much more significant.”

Proposed Ohio laws mark step backwards for people with disabilities: Ruth Colker

March 6, 2014

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Professor Ruth Colker weighed in on two measures proposed by the Ohio Legislature - House Bill 333 and Amended House Bill 334.

She wrote: "In the current legislative session, the Ohio legislature has proposed measures that would represent a move backwards from historic advancements for individuals with disabilities."

Experts: Abortion decision likely will stand

August 16, 2013

Professor Ruth Colker was quoted in a Toledo Blade article regarding the constitutionality of the new Ohio Heartbeat Bill. Many are questioning whether this new legislation could potentially lead to the overturning of the 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, although the decision was upheld in the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

“In the Casey decision, the court reaffirmed Roe vs. Wade, and a pivotal member of that court was Justice Kennedy and Justice Kennedy is still on the court,” Colker said. “I think we can all agree there are four liberals on the court who would be inclined to reaffirm. Kennedy is No. 5, and he has not done anything to lead a reasonable person to doubt he would still reaffirm Roe."

Legal precedents don’t hint at fate of new abortion curbs in Ohio

July 30, 2013

Professor Ruth Colker was quoted in a Columbus Dispatch article concerning a new abortion restriction in Ohio.

Colker traced through the logistics of a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Pennsylvania that challenged a similar restriction.


Affirmative Action and Academic Diversity

July 1, 2013

Professor Ruth Colker was featured as a guest on WOSU's All Sides with Ann Fisher, discussing the Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin case. She said the case brought up some important points for the future of affirmative action, and left some uncertainty as to what exactly is constitutional behavior for universities.

"There are some really important nuggets that I’m sure university officials are going to be looking at closely to make sure that their own plans are constitutional," Colker said. “Because the court did not merely affirm what the University of Texas did, so there’s still some uncertainty as to whether their plan is constitutional, that would lead some people to think that this area is ripe for further challenges.”

Gay Marriage Argument Made In High Court On Tuesday; Ohioans React

March 26, 2013

Professor Ruth Colker was quoted in an article on 10TV.com regarding the Supreme Court case on gay marriage rights. "I think the gay rights community wants a victory, but I think reasonable people disagree on the whether the broadest victory is always the best," said Colker. "I don't think anybody likes the courts telling them what to do."

Ohio Senate Bill 36 takes aim at federal gun laws

March 5, 2013

Professor Ruth Colker was quoted in an article from the Cleveland Plain Dealer about a new Ohio bill that aims to  make it illegal in the state for agencies to enforce any new federal gun bans or registries. Colker said that even if the bill is signed into law, it will not stop the federal government from enforcing its own laws.

"You don't use a legislative route to prevent the enforcement of a federal statute," Colker said. "That's not an option. This is clearly, 100 percent unconstitutional."

Ohio Senate Bill 36 takes aim at federal gun laws

March 4, 2013

Professor Ruth Colker was quoted in a Cleveland Plain Dealer article about Ohio Senate Bill 36, which proposes that local, state, federal or international agents who attempt to enforce new federal gun regulations in Ohio would be charged with first-degree felonies under state law. "You don't use a legislative route to prevent the enforcement of a federal statute," Colker said. "That's not an option. This is clearly, 100 percent unconstitutional."

Romney can't repeal Obamacare on own

July 19, 2012

Professor Ruth Colker wrote an opinion-editorial for The Columbus Dispatch about Mitt Romney’s hopes to repeal Obamacare.

“This history lesson is an important reminder of what Romney would have to navigate if he were elected president, even with a Republican majority in the Senate. If he tried to send a blanket ‘repeal’ bill to Congress, we can anticipate that Democrats would retain sufficient votes in the Senate to filibuster such an effort,” Colker wrote. “Recent history also reminds us that Romney, if elected president, could use some of his executive authority to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. The act’s administration will require a massive system of federal regulation.”

Disabilities Act Prompts Flood of Suits Some Cite as Unfair

April 16, 2012

Professor Ruth Colker was quoted by The New York Times in an article about lawyers looking for obstacles facing the disabled or businesses not in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act and then recruit clients who often do not have an existing complaint. Lawyers receive payment for their fees from businesses in violation of the act.

Colker, who specializes in disability law, said the lawsuits were an effective enforcement strategy. “It would be really be impossible for people to find a lawyer if there was no way for lawyers to get paid,” she said.

Protecting pregnant women in the workplace

March 19, 2012

Professor Ruth Colker was quoted in an article by The Middletown Journal. In the article, which regarded pregnant women being penalized at work for their pregnancy, Colker said pregnancy is not a protected condition on its own despite some conditions caused by pregnancy being protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Schools roundup

December 21, 2011

Professor Ruth Colker's proposal to address the “learning disability” tangle on the Social Science Research Network was mentioned in the legal blog Overlawyered.com.

Proposed change to Ohio Constitution debated

October 10, 2011

Professor Ruth Colker was quoted by the Toledo Blade in an article about whether a state issue that would prevent leaders from implementing President Obama's health care law would withstand a U.S. Supreme Court ruling declaring the law constitutional. If the nation's high court decides Congress did not step beyond its authority in enacting the law, then even a state constitution can't stand in its way.

"You can't pick and choose federal statutes that you don't like," said Colker, a constitutional law expert. "We're a union."

Abortion debate foes tap into technology to serve their beliefs

October 3, 2011

Professor Ruth Colker was quoted by the Toledo Blade in an article pertaining to abortion laws. According to the article, many abortion-rights opponents are trying to use advanced ultrasound technology to persuade women and lawmakers to shun abortion earlier post-conception. So far, they aren't having much luck, according to Colker.

"What the court has continued to say, even though states aren't happy about it, is when states try to limit abortion after viability they still have to allow an exception for the health and well-being of the mother," said Colker, an expert on constituional law.

Issue 3 called symbolic

October 2, 2011

Professor Ruth Colker was quoted by The Cincinnati Enquirer in an article about how the outcome of Issue 3 likely will result in a court battle regardless of which side wins. If the amendment passes, opponents are likely to challenge it on grounds that state voters cannot refuse to follow a federal law. If the amendment fails, both sides will continue to argue in federal court over a key provision of the health care law that requires people to buy health insurance.

"This is sort of a waste of voters' time, because what the voters do won't matter," said Colker, a law professor who specializes in constitutional law. "People are wanting to express their opinion, but I'd say this is a symbolic gesture."

She said the most important fight is the one now under way in the federal courts over the so-called "individual mandate," which requires Americans to buy at least a basic health insurance policy.

Allow Ohio's college students to use school IDs to prove residency when voting

April 20, 2011

Professor Ruth Colker was quoted in the Cleveland Plain Dealer in a post focusing on Ohio House Bill 159, which would require all voters to show a state-issued photo ID in order to vote. "No one has raised a single example of an incident of voter fraud in Ohio that was not prevented under current law but would have been prevented if HB 159 were in effect," wrote Colker.

Voting law would disenfranchise the young and the elderly: Ruth Colker

April 2, 2011

Professor Ruth Colker wrote an op-ed in the Cleveland Plain Dealer regarding Ohio House Bill 159, which would require voters to show a state-issued photo id at the polls prior to voting. "HB 159 would disenfranchise many voters, in particular the young and the elderly, and is a waste of resources at a time when our state is struggling financially," Colker wrote.

Proposed Ohio Voter ID Law Most Stringent in Country

March 29, 2011

Professor Ruth Colker was interviewed by KPKF Pacifica Radio regarding Ohio House Bill 159, which would significantly change Ohio's voter identification law.  Colker discussed the bill's impact on both young and old citizens as well as economic consequences. 

Photo-ID bill is a solution in search of a problem

March 28, 2011

Professor Ruth Colker published an op-ed in the Columbus Dispatch regarding Ohio House Bill 159, which would change Ohio's voter identifcation law. Colker strongly advocated against the bill, arguing it would disenfranchise both young and old voters.

Senate Candidate Pilgrim-Hunter Responds to Disability Questions

July 9, 2010

Professor Ruth Colker was quoted in a Bronx New Network blog about Ms. Desiree Pilgrim-Hunter who is running for a seat in the State Senate. Pilgrim-Hunter is on disability from the federal government and some people believe that this should disqualify her from public service. Colker was quoted about disability discrimination in the workplace: “Ruth Colker, an Ohio St. law professor who is an expert in disability discrimination, agrees with Waterstone and says that one of biggest problems people like Pilgrim-Hunter face is that ‘discrimination in the workplace precludes them from finding work that they could perform.’”

Retiring Stevens stood up for women, disabled, more

April 10, 2010

Professor Ruth Colker was quoted in a Lancaster Eagle Gazette story about Justice John Paul Stevens retiring from the U.S. Supreme Court. The story states: “Ruth Colker, a constitutional law professor at Ohio State University's Moritz College of Law, said Stevens was a champion in protecting the rights of women, the disabled and racial minorities. She cited one 2004 case, Tennessee vs. Lane, in which a man in a wheelchair who couldn't get to a second-floor courtroom was held in contempt. He sued, and courtrooms in Ohio and across the country later had that case in mind while making their buildings more accessible. Stevens wrote the majority opinion, maintaining that the man had the right to sue under the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

Ohio Lawmakers Scramble to React to Casino Plan

January 20, 2010

Professor Ruth Colker was quoted in an Associated Press story that was published in several newspapers, including the New York Times, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and others. The story detailed Ohio Statehouse reactions to the constitutional amendments that added four casinos in the state. The story states: “Constitutions are intended to be aspirational and broad in thinking, laws or statutes somewhat more specific and regulations the most specific, said Ruth Colker, a professor at the Ohio State University's Moritz College of Law. ‘This amendment turns that whole idea on its head because it's so highly specific,’ she said. ‘What we saw when the people adopted such a specific constitutional amendment was, oops, it didn't really work.’”

Handicapped spaces getting harder to find

August 23, 2009

Professor Ruth Colker was quoted in a Columbus Dispatch article regarding the issue that Ohio handicap parking spots are getting harder to find as the number of handicap licence plates and placards in circulation goes up. The story state: "Safety also is a worry for advocates. More than the number of available spaces, maintaining and repairing those spots is a concern, said Ruth Colker, a law professor at Ohio State University who specializes in disability discrimination. 'In general, there is a problem with the maintenance and repair of existing spaces because the ramps and curb cuts are often in a state of disrepair (and thereby quite dangerous),' Colker wrote in an e-mail. 'I haven't seen any studies of where spaces are most difficult to find.'"

Whitehall fights for its manger

December 6, 2007

Professor Ruth Colker was quoted in a Columbus Dispatch story regarding a Nativity scene in front of the Whitehall, Ohio, city hall. The story states: “Ruth Colker, a law professor at Ohio State University, doesn't see it that way. If Whitehall wants to keep its Nativity scene, she said, it will have to add to it -- not more reindeer and Santas, but symbols of non-Christian religions. ‘If you had a Nativity scene with a menorah and Buddha, it has sort of a different effect,’ she said. That would show the city was not endorsing any one particular religion, Colker said.

Speaker questions whether law should handle disabilities the way it deals with race

September 20, 2007

Professor Ruth Colker was quoted in The Athens News in regards to a lecture that she gave at Ohio University. Colker’s talked with titled “Is Separate Inherently Unequal? A Disability and Race Perspective?" "We need to be mindful of how mantras can cause us to develop policies that aren't necessarily effective," Colker said, explaining that the U.S. court system tends to presume integration to be the best solution in schooling.

Ruling on abortion could signal move toward more limits

April 19, 2007

Professor Ruth Colker was quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle on a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on partial birth abortion. The decision allows Congress to ban a specific abortion method, even if many doctors consider it the safest way to end a pregnancy and appears to signal a new willingness to limit women's access to a medical procedure that has polarized political debate for more than three decades. "I think the court is signaling a pretty strong shift in direction that will probably embolden the pro-life forces,'' said Colker. "They will be a lot more stringent" with challenges that seek to invalidate entire laws, she said.

Diabetics in the Workplace Confront a Tangle of Laws

December 26, 2006

In this New York Times article on diabetics and disability laws, Professor Ruth Colker said that very few working people with diabetes now find themselves guarded by the law.

Businesses Complain of Nuisance Suits

November 28, 2006

Professor Ruth Colker is quoted in this Associated Press story on the number of lawsuits filed citing ADA non-compliance. "Sure, someone is making money off of these lawsuits," said Colker. "But the problem with this statute is that there is no effective enforcement mechanism if we don't have these kinds of lawsuits."

Breeding injustice

August 10, 2006

Professor Ruth Colker is quoted in this article that appeared in The Phoenix on how "fit" people are today. Colker has observed the long-lasting effect of legal "unfitness." "These exclusions continue today," Colker says. "Twenty-six states proscribe voting by persons labeled idiotic, insane or non compos mentis. Only ten states permit citizens to vote irrespective of mental disability." With the advent of same-sex marriage prohibitions, new restrictions rooted in people's biological "incapacities" have reared their ugly heads once again.

Supreme Court Sides With Ga. Inmate

January 10, 2006

In an Associate Press story about today's U.S. Supreme Court ruling that says that disabled state prisoners whose constitutional rights are violated behind bars can win damages, Professor Ruth Colker said states should be prepared for more lawsuits by inmates. The story also appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

High Court Rules Disabled Prisoner Can Sue State

January 10, 2006

In the New York Times, Professor Ruth Colker is quoted regarding the Wednesday U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned a 2004 ruling by the federal appeals court in Atlanta, which held that Georgia was entitled to sovereign immunity from a lawsuit brought by a paraplegic prison inmate under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Abortion debate foes tap into technology to serve their beliefs; Advances like ultrasound used by both

October 3, 2005

Professor Ruth Colker is quoted in this Toledo Blade article about advancements in medical technology and its use on both sides of the abortion argument. "What the court has continued to say, even though states aren't happy about it, is when states try to limit abortion after viability they still have to allow an exception for the health and well-being of the mother," Colker said.

15th Anniversary of the ADA

July 27, 2005

Ruth Colker, a law professor at The Ohio State University and author of The Disability Pendulum, talks about the progress that has been made since the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990.

More than curb cuts; Law passed in '90 has opened many - but not all - doors to disabled

July 24, 2005

Professor Ruth Colker was quoted in this Columbus Dispatch article about positive and negative changes to the lives of disabled Americans following the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. Colker hails the act for slowly transforming attitudes, but she said few could have predicted the Supreme Court decisions that have narrowed the law's scope.

Heights officials, colleges take 'sue me' stance on marriage law

December 2, 2004

In a Cleveland Plain Dealer story on Issue 1 and domestic partner benefits offered by Ohio universities, Professor Ruth Colker says the universities' posture allows them to avoid initiating costly and potentially unsuccessful litigation, while making a good-faith argument for continuing the benefits they view as a valuable recruiting tool. "Given the vagueness of the language of Issue 1, it's hard for anyone to know what it really means," Colker said in an interview. "The best and clearest reading is that it bans gay marriage and civil unions and nothing else. Since we don't have gay marriage and civil unions in the state of Ohio right now, it really doesn't have any effect."

Campaign For Marriage Amendment Submits Petitions

August 3, 2004

Interviewed on WBNS-10TV-Columbus, Professor Ruth Colker said that proponents of a constitutional ban on same sex marriage may have a difficult time convincing the U.S. Supreme Court that their amendment is not punishing a particular group.