Is Justice Sotomayor the First Justice Who Had a “Disability” When Appointed?

So claims the White House, and MEDIAite and Kevin Drum (Mother Jones) report on it. This apparently refers to Justice Sotomayor’s diabetes.

Now diabetes is a serious illness, and likely would be treated as disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, as recently amended. [UPDATE: I had originally neglected to focus on the 2008 amendments to the ADA, and said that diabetes that is relatively mild with treatment wouldn’t be a disability for purposes of employment law; but, as commenter fennel123 points out, it likely would be a disability under the new amendments.]

Still, if “disability” is read broadly enough to include properly treated diabetes, is it really the case that no other Justices came to the Court with similarly serious conditions? For instance, Supreme Court Justice Henry Brown was apparently blind in one eye when appointed. I would think that there had been others, given the poor state of medicine in the past. Can anyone think of any? (Please include a pointer to the source supporting your assertion, and please focus on Justices who had some sufficient disability when they were first appointed to the Supreme Court.)

I should note that I don’t think that appointing someone to the bench who has diabetes — or who is blind in one eye — is a particularly noteworthy achievement; but here I’m just asking about the facts. Thanks to Opher Banarie for the pointer.

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