“Unfortunately, too many Americans today cannot afford legal representation. In many parts of this nation, more than 80 percent of those who need an attorney go without one. Nationally, over 50 percent of applicants for federally funded legal services who request legal aid are turned away because programs lack adequate funding.” — Sen. Tom Harkin
More topics that would never be discussed in Congress were it not for the CBC… CIVIL ACCESS TO JUSTICE ACT. Yesterday, the House Judiciary subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law held a hearing on the Civil Access to Justice Act which calls for funding of the Legal Aid Services Corp for the first time in 30 years. In brief: The bill seeks to expand legal aid services to those who can not them. Four members of the Congressional Black Caucus attended the hearing led by Rep. Bobby Scott, who is the chief sponsor of the legislation in the House. Rep. Scott was joined by John Conyers, Mel Watt and Hank Johnson in support of funding the Rep. Scott and Tom Harkin or Iowa testified on the legislation at the top of the hearing. “Millions of our fellow citizens are unable to enforce their rights,” Harkin said during his testimony.
The four CBCers brought up the obvious, which is that… The words “Equal Justice Under Law” engraved on the front of the U.S. Supreme Court building represent an elusive concept in a society where so many can not afford legal representation.
In the past the Legal Services Corp has been plagued by scandal… but that was so long ago one could argue it was a lifetime ago and this legislation seeks to make the program more efficient. From Scott’s press release in October 2009 when the legislation was introduced:
The Civil Access to Justice Act makes several changes to the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) statute that will administer the program more efficiently and effectively. First, the bill increases the yearly authorization to $750 million, which matches the amount (adjusted for inflation) appropriated in 1981, the high-water mark for LSC funding. LSC’s current $390 million appropriation is well below the amount needed to adequately fund the program.