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Slashing Civil Legal Aid


Slashing Civil Legal Aid

The following appeared in the New York Times on March 8, 2011. Read below, or view on the Times' website.

PRESIDENT’S F.Y. 2010-11 REQUEST: $407 MILLION

The editorial is part of series that explores the impact of the penny-and-pound foolish cuts the House Republicans want to impose.

House Republicans voted to cut $83 million from President Obama’s request for the Legal Services Corporation, the federally financed nonprofit program that provides civil legal help to low-income Americans.

Slashing Civil Legal Aid

The following appeared in the New York Times on March 8, 2011. Read below, or view on the Times' website.

PRESIDENT’S F.Y. 2010-11 REQUEST: $407 MILLION

The editorial is part of series that explores the impact of the penny-and-pound foolish cuts the House Republicans want to impose.

House Republicans voted to cut $83 million from President Obama’s request for the Legal Services Corporation, the federally financed nonprofit program that provides civil legal help to low-income Americans.

The corporation supports 136 programs that operate 918 legal services offices around the nation. Their clients include victims of domestic violence seeking shelter and protection orders, families fending off evictions and foreclosures, veterans and the disabled trying to obtain benefits and elderly Americans who have fallen prey to consumer fraud.

The Legal Services Corporation says the House cut would force layoffs of at least 370 staff lawyers — almost 10 percent of the program’s total. These offices, which already have to turn away many hard-pressed Americans needing legal help, would be forced to turn away many more. Some offices serving rural areas would have to close down.

Deficit-ridden states have cut their support for these civil legal services programs. Another source of financing — interest earned on lawyers’ escrow accounts — has evaporated because of historically low interest rates. That makes federal dollars even more crucial. Given the economic crisis, and the long line of desperate clients, this is the worst time to be cutting federal support for civil legal services.