Type 1 Diabetic, Judge Sotomayor and Diabetes Discrimination

Ann Bartlett Health Guide
  • Last Thursday, a jury ruled that Jeff Kapche, a type 1 diabetic, had been discriminated against when the FBI refused to hire Jeff  as a Special Agent because of his type 1 diabetes.  Jeff Kapche was not a stranger to discrimination from law enforcement.  In 1994 San Antonio police refused to hire him for the same reason. His argument was that he should be judged on his merits and not stereotyped for his diabetes


    Today, President Obama officially nominated for the Supreme Court, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, a type 1 diabetic.  Judge Sotomayor has been serving as a judge for the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.  During the Presidents nomination speech, he noted that as a child, Judge Sotomayor was inspired to become a detective like Nancy Drew, but was told that she could not join law enforcement because of her diabetes.  The President's comment could not have come at a better time!  Thanks to the jury's decision last Thursday, the answer now is she CAN decide what she wants to be without limitation!

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    Both of these stories are about the diabetes glass ceiling.  Should we be barred from jobs that we qualify for because of type 1 diabetes?  In regard to sitting on the Supreme Court, does this position fall under the American Disabilities Act?  I would assume that it does.  But isn't the larger question, who is immune from potentially serious health problems?  Is there a difference between Judge John Roberts, who is suspected of having epilepsy and Judge Bader Ginsberg who is recovering from cancer surgery and Judge Sotomayor


    The American Diabetes Association says, "The advancement of management of type 1 diabetes have been just amazing over the last two decades because of the advent of insulin pumps and the ability of people to measure their glucose at home.  We're talking about a whole different ball game now in terms f how well patients can do; what their longevity is like and how well they can function."


    My argument has always been that no one except you can know what your potential is livng with chronic illness.   Many of us do very well.  A great example is Anna, a high school senior who doesn't know the word stop!  She is getting ready to run the Pikes Peak Ascent this summer, which is just one achievement among many.  Regardless of the type of achievement, I think all of these are cases of a fulfilled life with or without diabetes!  One of President Obama's main points for his decision was experience.  I know he means experience on the court, but his comment also says that her long experience and success as a judge has not been deterred for having diabetes. 


    Do you think it is necessary to scrutinize Judge Sotomayor's diabetes as part of her job eligibility? 


Published On: May 26, 2009