11/12/2003 3:26 PM
THE POLITICS OF EQUAL JUSTICE
Two more bills were introduced to establish the Legal Services Corporation and to temper the ideological wars erupting over legal aid for the poor—both bills died quiet deaths. 42
Even the American Bar Association, under the leadership of Lewis Powell, prior to his appointment to the Supreme Court, tempered its support for the establishment of a Legal Services agency with concerns about social activism, political agendas, and professional standards, though these concerns were made with far more subtle and less caustic language than the invective filled rhetoric used by
Ironically, however, that the Legal Services
it was during the Nixon Corporation Act ultimately was
passed—and 1974, shortly
eventually signed into law by President Nixon in July of before he resigned as a result of the Watergate scandal. 44
compromise. clarified that
In 1973 the Program issued “[l]aw reform will no longer be
new guidelines that a primary or separate
goal of the program. . . .
From its inception, this small federal agency has been under unrelenting political assault. Over the last three decades, Republican presidents continued to appoint board members whose support for an independent and fully funded agency was reluctant and almost always
in line with a
restricted mission.46 the agency reached its
During the Carter high-water mark in
a fairer and more million dollars to across the nation
just society.47 The agency’s funding went from $90 $321 million, and the number of local programs increased to over 300.48 Nevertheless, the agency
von Keller IV, supra note 37, at 10.
See EARL JOHNSON, JR., THE FORMATIVE YEARS OF THE OEO LEGAL SERVICES
PROGRAM 39-69 (Russell Sage Foundation 1974) (providing a comprehensive analysis of the development of the federal program, including the ABA and Lewis Powell’s roles).
44. See Quigley, supra note 13, at 253 (describing the compromises in the LSC bill President Nixon signed, including restrictions prohibiting abortion litigation and litigation involving school desegregation and selective service).
45. See LAWRENCE, supra note 16, at 12 n.29 (providing a brief history of the changes that took place during 1966 to 1974).
46. See Quigley, supra note 13, at 251-54 (describing the restrictions that have been placed on Legal Services).
47. See id. at 254-55 (summarizing the growth of LSC during the Carter Administration and its abrupt decline at the beginning of the Reagan Administration).
48. Id. at 254.