Legal Services Corp., Under Trump, Faces New Threat to Existence

The Legal Services Corp., created in 1974 under the signature of President Richard Nixon, is once again on the chopping block as another Republican president—Donald Trump— proposes to zero out its funding in his first budget.

News Story (NATIONAL)

Marcia Coyle
National Law Journal
March 16, 2017

Tags: Funding: Federal

Organizations mentioned/involved: Legal Services Corporation (LSC), American Bar Association (ABA)


The largest single funder of civil legal aid for low-income Americans, the LSC has been a budget-cutting target of Republican administrations and members of Congress almost since its inception. The organization faced perhaps its greatest crisis in the 1980s, when President Ronald Reagan and his supporters attempted to disband the agency. The Reagan administration viewed LSC lawyers as misusing government funds to advance a liberal agenda through test cases filed as class actions in welfare, immigration, abortion and other areas.

After an all-out effort by the organized bar and others to save the LSC, Congress in 1982 rejected the Reagan attack, and instead imposed budget cuts that forced the layoffs of nearly 1,800 lawyers.

Now more than 30 years later, a battle for its survival is likely to begin again.