Justice system hangs in the balance

Legal Services cuts impact a lifeline for the poor.

Op-Ed, Speech (Massachusetts)

Rep. Joe Kennedy III
Boston Herald
April 4, 2017

Tags: Funding: Federal

Organizations mentioned/involved: Legal Services Corporation (LSC)


But down in Washington, D.C., the civil side gets less attention. Despite the fact that for most Americans, this is where they touch our justice system. And where — from housing to health care to employment and domestic abuse — the consequences shape the rest of their lives.

Our country’s commitment to civil legal aid is bone-thin. Taking inflation into account, the amount of funding provided to the Legal Services Corp. in 2013 was the lowest it has ever been in its nearly 40-year history.

In 2014, Americans spent $15 million more on Halloween costumes for their pets than we as a nation spent on Legal Services basic field grants. Only one-fifth of low-income Americans can access the legal assistance they qualify for.

President Trump’s budget would eliminate all federal funding for Legal Services. Not reduce it. Not cut it in half. Zero it out.