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HORNSTEIN_FINALMENTE.DOC

11/12/2003 3:26 PM

1098

JOURNAL OF GENDER, SOCIAL POLICY & THE LAW

[Vol. 11:3

most of the 1990s, and if approved would have effectively destroyed

the

agency.66

Although

the

House

Appropriations

C o m m i t t e e s

starvation

funding

recommendation

has

occurred

each

year

since

1996, a larger amendment and

appropriation has eventually been through the conference process with the

secured Senate. 67

by

The intense opposition of conservative Republicans to the Legal Services Corporation is captured in a story that circulated in the Legal Services Community in Washington, D.C., shortly after the Republicans gained control of Congress in 1996. The story begins with former New Hampshire Republican Senator Warren Rudman, a long-time supporter of the agency, calling his former colleague, Republican Texas Senator Phil Gramm, to offer congratulations on Gramm’s being named chairman of a Senate appropriations

subcommittee

with

jurisdiction

over

the

agency.

Rudman

is

reported

to have told appointment According to

Gramm that as soon as he learned of Gramm’s new he prayed for the Legal Services Corporation. the story, Gramm—perhaps apocryphally—is supposed

to have them.”

replied,

“Warren,

not

even

God’s

going

to

be

able

to

save

Throughout the 1990s, the efforts of the Republicans to abolish the

Legal

Services

Corporation,

like

the

ocean’s

tides,

would

continue

to

ebb and flow with each Congressman, Bob Dornan,

new

Congress.

long

one of the

Former California harshest and loudest

critics of the Legal Services Corporation likened proposals during the Gingrich era to permit the federal agency to survive to “putting Lenin,

Ho Chi Min and Castro in prison. your throat. You must get rid of

They’ll escape, come back and slit them, put them in Devil’s Island

underground.”68 two decades, the

It would not opposition of

be hyperbole to say that over the last conservative Republicans to the Legal

Services hatred.

Corporation

has

congealed

into

a

single-minded

political

Congressional opponents, unable to outright destroy the agency, have settled on a course designed to encumber it with a wide array of restrictions that severely limit the quality and quantity of legal representation available to the nation’s poor. Federally funded legal services lawyers are prohibited from bringing class actions, seeking

66. Memorandum to Legal Services Programs from Julie Clark, Senior Vice President for Government Relations and Support, National Legal Aid & Defender Association (July 17, 1996) [hereinafter NLADA Memo] (on file with author).

  • 67.

    Id.

  • 68.

    Hillary Stout, Legal Services, The Agency That Wouldn’t Die, Looks Like It

May Survive The Age of Gingrich, WALL ST. J., July 21, 1995, at A12.

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