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HORNSTEIN_FINALMENTE.DOC

11/12/2003 3:26 PM

1100

JOURNAL OF GENDER, SOCIAL POLICY & THE LAW

[Vol. 11:3

1995, the Heritage Foundation issued a report entitled, “Why the Legal Services Corporation must be Abolished.”75 In it, the Heritage Foundation claims, “Legal Services has helped destroy the independence and dignity of poor people and to create a permanent underclass.”76

IV. THE PRICE OF JUSTICE IS NOT CHEAP

So, is the opposition to the Legal Services Corporation founded on principle, or is it little more than raw politics? And why does the universally accepted principle of equal access to justice prove so

divisive and Congressional

inspire such opponents of

vitriolic political discourse? the agency enthusiastically draw

While the line

on using other people’s money to have no reservations about using

pay for lawyers other people’s

for the money

poor, they to pay for

their own lawyers. For years, members faced with ethical and criminal charges

of the House and the Senate have used campaign funds to

retain

the

best

and

most

famous

lawyers

money

can

buy.77

Recently

defeated

California

Congressman

Gary

Condit

spent

well

over

$100,000 in campaign funds to retain the powerful Phelps and Phillips to assist him in navigating surrounding the disappearance of Chandra Levy. 78

law firm of Manatt, the investigations

Another source of money available to members of Congress are legal defense funds. Federal law permits the use of legal defense funds because an individual covered by the Ethics Reform Act of 1989 can accept a gift if it’s done under regulations published by the person’s “supervising ethics office.”79 The law specifies, however, “no gift may be accepted . . . in return for being influenced in the performance of any official act.”80 The Senate Select Committee on Ethics has issued regulations governing the use of trusts to defray legal expenses.81 Senate rules allow a member to establish a legal defense

  • 75.

    HERITAGE FOUNDATION REPORT, supra note 3.

  • 76.

    Id.

  • 77.

    See DWIGHT MORRIS & MURIELLE E. GAMACHE, HANDBOOK OF CAMPAIGN

SPENDING, MONEY IN THE 1992 CONGRESSIONAL RACES 24 (1994); Johnny Carter, Note, To Provide For The Legal Defense: Legal Defense Funds and Federal Ethics Law, 74 TEX. L. REV. 147 (1995) (describing the broad legality of defense funds); Harvey Berkman, Legal Defense Funds are Pol’s Latest Perk, NATL L. J., Dec. 11, 1995, at A1.

78. See Why Condit Refuses to Resign, at http://www.politicsol.com/editorials/ editorial_2001_08_26.html (last visited Mar. 3, 2003).

  • 79.

    5 U.S.C. § 7353(a)(B).

  • 80.

    Id.

  • 81.

    See Select Committee on Ethics, Regulations Governing Trust Funds to

Defray Legal Expenses Incurred by Members, Officers and Employees of the U.S. Senate, S. Res. 508, 96th Cong. (2d Sess.) (1980) (adopted Sept. 30, 1980; amended

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