11/12/2003 3:26 PM
JOURNAL OF GENDER, SOCIAL POLICY & THE LAW
could not entirely escape the reach of congressional opponents. President Jimmy Carter’s appointees to the agency’s board were blocked, formal reauthorization of the 1974 Enabling Act was denied, and the agency was forced to survive on budget resolutions.49
When Ronald Reagan became president in 1980, the agency faced renewed efforts to dismantle and de-fund it.50 Reagan had profited handsomely in his political fortunes by branding Legal Services lawyers in California as political activists bent on furthering a liberal agenda.51 The agency’s lawyers made significant improvements in the lives of migrant workers whose existence was not that far removed from a state of peonage. Reagan eagerly did the political bidding of powerful agricultural interests who were being sued by the farm workers’ lawyers.52 As the newly elected president in 1980, Reagan named nominees openly hostile to the very agency they were appointed to govern, but the Democratic controlled Senate acted to block confirmation of his board nominees—requiring Reagan to resort to recess appointments.53 At one point, a Reagan appointed agency chairperson publicly supported abolition of the agency.54 It was under President Reagan that the Legal Services Corporation experienced its most severe funding cuts and an increased number of draconian restrictions—limiting the ability of the agency to provide effective legal assistance to the nation’s poor. 55
It was not until the Clinton Administration in the early 1990s that the agency could again count on support from the White House, but a friendly White House did not necessarily mean the agency was out of harm’s way.56 In 1996, although the agency had supporters in the
49. See id. at 255 (commenting on the difficulties LSC faced as it expanded at the end of the Carter Administration).
50. See id. at 255-56 (noting the Reagan Administration’s efforts to reduce funding for federal legal services).
51. See Lorenz, supra note 5, at 302 (noting Governor Reagan’s dislike of CRLA because it was successful in delaying several of the Governor’s conservative policies, such as budget cuts for California’s Medicaid program).
52. See id. at 302 (noting Governor Reagan’s frustration towards CRLA, when for two weeks in 1967, CRLA was able to stop the importation of Mexican contract workers into California).
53. See Quigley, supra note 13, at 256-57 (commenting on Regan’s efforts in the early 1980s to eliminate LSC through reduced funding and the appointment of unsympathetic board members).
54. See id. at 257 (commenting that in 1987, the hostility and internal strife of the LSC board was so great that abolition of the agency loomed as a reality).
55. See id. at 257-59 (noting the Reagan Administration’s efforts to abolish LSC through reduced funding, reduced training and support centers, and increased regulations restricting LSC’s advocacy for the poor).
56. See LEGAL SERVICES CORPORATION’S TWENTY FIFTH ANNIVERSARY REPORT, supra note 5, at 8 (noting that in the early 1990s, the Clinton Administration and