Legal Services Corporation Confident of Bipartisan Support in Congress Despite President Trump’s Call to Defund

March 16, 2017

WASHINGTON – President Trump’s budget proposal released today calls for defunding the Legal Services Corporation, but LSC leaders expressed confidence that Congress would continue to support the vital mission of the nation's single largest funder of civil legal aid for low-income people. 

"I look forward to working with Congress to continue LSC’s work,” said James Sandman, President of LSC. “I am optimistic that the bipartisan support we have enjoyed in Congress for more than four decades will continue for years to come."

LSC was created in 1974 with broad bipartisan congressional sponsorship and was signed into law by President Nixon. Every year for 42 years, Congress has funded LSC so that low-income constituents might realize our country’s solemn pledge of “justice for all.” In each of the last three fiscal years, strong bipartisan majorities in Congress have increased LSC's funding by $10 million per year.  

LSC works to ensure that low-income Americans receive the help they need in civil legal matters to ensure their safety, the stability of their families, and their livelihoods. As the late Justice Antonin Scalia emphasized in a speech at LSC’s 40th Anniversary conference in 2014, “this organization pursues the most fundamental of American ideals, and it pursues equal justice in those areas of life most important to the lives of our citizens.” 

LSC is the backbone of the legal aid system in the United States and is particularly important in serving rural areas. Federal funding for civil legal services provides crucial assistance to hundreds of thousands of Americans each year. The 133 legal aid programs that LSC funds serve every county in every state and the territories. They help veterans secure the benefits they have earned, assist domestic violence victims in obtaining protection orders against abusers, protect seniors from consumer scams, and help disaster survivors get back on their feet. 

“The Legal Services Corporation is as American as apple pie,” said John Levi, Chairman of the LSC Board. “We promote what Thomas Jefferson described as ‘the most sacred of the duties of government,’ which is ‘to provide equal and impartial justice to all its citizens.’ And we do it at a cost that amounts to less than one one-hundredth of one percent of the federal budget.”  

Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is an independent nonprofit established by Congress in 1974 to provide financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans. The Corporation currently provides funding to 133 independent nonprofit legal aid programs in every state, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories.