U.S. Congress Access to Civil Legal Services Caucus


Announced December 2015. Advocates for civil legal aid programs and to ensure access to representation is never limited by income.
Caucus web page

Primary geographic focus: NATIONAL
Organization type(s): Government
Acronym or short name: Access to Civil Legal Services Caucus

Co-Chairs for 2015-2016 are Congressman Joe Kennedy III (D-MA4) and Congresswoman Susan Brooks (R-IN5). Text of press release:

Washington, DC – As Congress continues to debate comprehensive justice reform, Congressman Joe Kennedy III (D-MA4) and Congresswoman Susan Brooks (R-IN5) today launched the Access to Civil Legal Services Caucus which will focus on expanding access to legal representation for low-income families. According to the Legal Services Corporation, half of those that qualify for legal assistance are turned away due to lack of resources. As former prosecutors, Kennedy and Brooks have both made addressing inequities in the justice system a priority of their time in Congress.

“Our legal system is where our nation makes good on the sacred promise of equal justice under the law,” said Congressman Kennedy. “But too often that promise is far from guaranteed for low-income families, veterans, victims of domestic violence and thousands of other Americans forced to stand in our courtrooms alone each year with their homes, savings and futures at risk. Through this caucus, we can build a strong coalition in Congress to advocate for civil legal aid programs and ensure access to representation is never limited by income.”

“Unfortunately, some civil disputes require the parties to resolve their differences in court, but many of those who face the toughest legal challenges, including low-income families, veterans, and victims of domestic violence, are forced to navigate the judicial system alone, without any legal help or counsel simply because they can’t afford it,” said Congresswoman Brooks. “Without legal advice to help guide them through the complicated judicial process, and with court personnel and systems often overwhelmed, they can face enormous burdens that devastate families, result in a further descent into poverty, and cause homelessness. This caucus will seek to change that, making sure that when civil disputes are brought to our judicial system, those involved, regardless of financial means, have access to appropriate legal resources and representation.”

In a letter to colleagues urging them to join the Caucus, the lawmakers cited a Boston Bar Association report that found 64% of cases in Massachusetts in 2013 that were eligible for legal aid programs were turned away due to lack of funding. They also emphasized that most cases covered by civil legal aid organization in Massachusetts and Indiana involved family and housing cases.



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News Story

Lawmakers launch legal aid caucus

Lydia Wheeler
Hill, The
December 1, 2015
Reps. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.) and Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) launched the Access to Civil Legal Services Caucus on Tuesday to advocate for civil legal aid programs and ensure access to representation is never limited by income.



This page last modified: Wed, October 19, 2016 -- 8:43 am ET