Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1997

Abstract

Fierce political battles have raged about the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) for much of its twenty-three year history.' Critics have attacked LSC for pursuing a "radical agenda" and for "engaging in dubious litigation that is of no real benefit to poor people,"2 while supporters have termed LSC "the one program in the entire war on poverty that made a difference"3 and have decried the "campaign to deny the right of legal representation to the poor."4 Last year, in the Omnibus Consolidated Rescissions and Appropriations Act of 1996 (OCRAA),5 Congress reduced LSC funding by thirty percent - to $278 million in fiscal year 1996,6 a reduction of $122 million from 19957 - and imposed new restrictions on how LSC funds may be used. Congress banned legal services providers from using non-LSC funds to engage in certain activities and prohibited legal services attorneys from challenging welfare reform laws. The restrictions on non- LSC funds impose an unconstitutional condition on LSC grantees; the ban on welfare reform litigation assaults values protected by the First Amendment and the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses.

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