Providing equal access to justice for all

It’s time for Congress to stand firmly behind increased funding for legal aid and ensure every American is afforded the protections our justice system promises, says Joe Kennedy III in this op-ed.

Op-Ed (Massachusetts)

Rep. Joe Kennedy III
Taunton Daily Gazette (MA)
September 11, 2015

Tags: Access to Justice

Organizations mentioned/involved: South Coastal Counties Legal Services (MA) (SCCLS), Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS), Legal Services Corporation (LSC)


Across the country, low and middle-income Americans struggle through this maze every day. While our justice system generally guarantees access to an attorney for anyone facing criminal charges, that promise does not extend to civil matters. And civil cases make up the bulk of legal challenges most American families are likely to face, including eviction, bankruptcy, health care disputes, workplace discrimination, child custody battles, restraining orders, divorce and domestic violence.

As a result, many of our most vulnerable citizens are forced to walk into courtrooms and attempt to navigate our legal system completely alone — usually facing opponents with more money, more power, and more connections.

Those things aren’t supposed to matter in the United States justice system. But by failing to ensure everyone has access to legal services and fair representation, we’ve tipped our sacred scales in the wrong direction.