11/12/2003 3:26 PM
THE POLITICS OF EQUAL JUSTICE
statutorily available attorney’s fees, helping clients organize groups such as tenant unions, accepting cases that may generate an attorney’s fee, handling voting rights cases, or doing any type of lobbying on behalf of the clients or communities they represent.69 The mantra of congressional opponents has been accountability and efficiency. Even
recently, the Congressman
agency’s current John Erlenborn, in
president, former Republican an appearance before a House
imposed by the reaffirmed “the legal assistance
104th Congress under Newt Gingrich as reforms that federal government’s commitment to providing free
earlier this year focused on “effective oversight” applicable Federal law and regulations.”71
Ironically, however, the Legal Services Corporation may be the only federal agency that can claim over ninety-five percent of its funds are used to provide direct services.72 And despite the never-ending call for accountability, the agency has been scandal free, unless you treat the political invective and accusations hurled by groups like the Christian Coalition and the Heritage Foundation as fact. Ralph Reed, former executive director of the Christian Coalition, joined in the
Gingrich era circulated the legal services
chorus demanding the agency’s abolition.73
claim that by representing poor women lawyers undermine American values by
in divorces, “subsidizing
providing poor criminal defendants
logic of this is dizzying—as with lawyers subsidizes crime.
69. Quigley, supra note 13, at 261-64 (noting that as a result of the restrictions imposed, class action litigation, challengers to the welfare program, and law reform by “poor people’s lawyers” have almost all completely ceased); see LEGAL SERVICES CORPORATION TWENTY FIFTH ANNIVERSARY ANNUAL REPORT, supra note 5, at 10; LEGAL SERVICES CORPORATION PAPER: THE IMPACT OF FISCAL YEAR 1996 CUTS ON THE LEGAL SERVICES DELIVERY SYSTEM; see also Omnibus Consolidated Rescissions and Appropriations Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-134, § 504, 110 Stat. 1321, 1353-56 (1996), reenacted in the Omnibus consolidated Rescissions and Appropriations Act of 1997, Pub. L. No. 104-208, § 502, 110 Stat. 3009 (1997).
70. John Erlenborn, President, Statement of the Legal Services Corporation 2 (Feb. 28, 2002) [hereinafter Erlenborn Testimony], available at http://www.lsc.goov/
Id. at 2-3.
LEGAL SERVICES CORPORATION
, BUDGET REQUEST FOR FISCAL YEAR 2002,
Executive Summary, available at http://www.lsc.gov/pressr/budgdocs/FY2002BRF. doc; Terry Brooks, The Legal Services Corporation: 2001 and Beyond, 40 No.1 JUDGES’ J. 30, 31 (2001) (stating that the allocations are made to various individual local non-profit corporations around the country that provide direct services).
73. Henry Cohen, The Legal Services Corporation, CRS Report for Congress 95- 470A, CRS-4 (July 5, 1998).