The Push to Kill Civil Legal Services for Poor People
By Brian Wolfman
Heather Rogers has written "The relentless push to bleed Legal Services dry." Congress created the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) in 1974 to provide civil legal representation to poor people. In 1981, Ronald Reagan set out to kill LSC. He didn't succeed -- entirely. But he achieved a 25% budget cut, taking the annual appropriation to $321 million, and things have gone downhill since then. The current fiscal year appropriation is just $348 million. (1981 funding in real, inflation-adjusted terms would require $812 million.) That's right -- $348 million to provide civil legal services to all 46 million Americans living in poverty. Rogers explains that political support for LSC is so weak that most of LSC's friends in Congress are just looking for small increases (and spend most of their effort fighting cuts). Worth reading.
NYT Op Ed calls for Civil Gideon Happy New Year, and happy day! My wish for 2009: that it will be the year of Civil Gideon. Right now when budgets are being trimmed, cut, and scrutinized, advocates for the poor must continue to work hard demonstrating that adequate funding for legal services to the poor makes for sound policy, is economically smart, and also is just the right thing to do...
This Week: Legal Services Corp Budget Debate The Legal Services Corp, the nation's largest funding source for civil legal aid to the poor, has seen its fortunes rise, then fall, and then settle somewhere in the middle during the Obama administration.