November 06, 2009

SENATOR CARDIN PRAISES SENATE FOR STRENGTHENING LEGAL SERVICES CORP.

Senate-passed bill also contains 2.6 percent increase for LSC in FY 2010

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), a strong supporter of the Legal Services Corp (LSC), praised Senate passage of the Commerce Justice Science (CJS) appropriations bill, which contains a $10 million increase in funding for LSC for FY 2010.   Senator Cardin singled out U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD) for special praise for her work in strengthening the bill as chair of the CJS appropriations subcommittee.

 

"I commend Senator Mikulski for boosting funding for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) in this bill, and for removing the restrictions on the use of non-LSC funds by LSC grant recipients," said Senator Cardin, a member of the Judiciary Committee.   "Lifting this restriction in the law is important, because it allows LSC grantees to use their own funds to pursue class-action lawsuits where there is a pattern and practice of illegal behavior. These are critical tools for lawyers to have in their arsenal as they fight to protect their low-income clients against egregious miscarriages of justice, and help the most vulnerable individuals in our society secure equal justice under the law."

 

In May 2008, Senator Cardin chaired a Judiciary Committee on "Closing the Justice Gap," which explored ways to provide better representation to low-income individuals.   In March 2009, Senator Cardin also joined with U.S. Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) in introducing the Civil Access to Justice Act of 2009 , S.718, which would increase funding for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), lift many of the restrictions on LSC-funded attorneys and improve corporate governance

In 1974, Congress established the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), a private, non-profit corporation funded by Congress, to fund civil legal aid.  LSC, however, has not been reauthorized since 1981, and federal funding has been slashed since 1995 -- from $415 million to $350 in FY'08, with only a recent increase to $390 million for FY'09.  Congress, moreover, has imposed severe restrictions on the use of both federal as well as non-federal funds - impeding attorneys' ability to provide the most effective legal assistance.   The Senate-passed bill would increase funding from $390 million in FY '09 to $400 million in FY'10.

"I am also pleased that the House has introduced legislation to reauthorize LSC, and look forward to working with the Obama Administration and my colleagues in Congress to enact both the LSC appropriations and reauthorization legislation in this Congress," said Senator Cardin.