Dick Thornburgh: Ensuring justice for all with legal aid

Legal aid services are a lifeline for many, and essential to our system of justice.

Op-Ed (Pennsylvania)

Dick Thornburgh
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
March 5, 2017

Tags: Funding: Federal, Justice for All

Organizations mentioned/involved: Neighborhood Legal Services Association (Pittsburgh) (NSLA), Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, Legal Services Corporation (LSC)


Just very recently, there were news reports of possible defunding of the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) entirely, which would devastate the ability of legal aid programs to serve clients. That would affect every city, county and state in the country, including tens of thousands of residents here in Pennsylvania. Which is why I am calling upon members of Congress from Pennsylvania to ensure that the LSC continues to provide critical support to legal aid programs in this state and throughout the United States.

Even if we can preserve LSC funding — already reduced in purchasing power to a fraction of what it was during the 1970s — we must redouble our efforts to diversify financial support for these vital services. We must start by asking that the General Assembly reauthorize the state’s Access to Justice Act filing fee, which is currently set at $4 per filing, and increase that fee to $6 to ensure that we can increase our capacity to provide lawyers to households in crisis.