Monday, June 22, 2009

Congress Should Free Legal Aid Lawyers From Federal Restrictions

The Washington Post opines that Congress Should Free Legal Aid Lawyers From Federal Restrictions, June 22, 2009:

THE HOUSE was right last week to call for a substantial increase in funding for the Legal Services Corp. (LSC), the nonprofit organization that provides legal assistance to poor people in civil matters. But House members left in place unwise and unwarranted restrictions on how the LSC could use that money; . . .

The Senate, which is scheduled to take up the funding measure this week, should go even further in freeing legal aid lawyers from federal restrictions. The LSC has long been prohibited from using public funds to lodge class-action suits, represent undocumented workers or participate in any abortion-related litigation. While some limitations on the use of tax dollars may be warranted, there is no legitimate reason for federal restrictions on how local legal aid groups use privately raised funds or money they receive from state or local governments. The Obama administration, which supports the lifting of these restrictions, estimates that roughly $490 million in private and non-federal funds that find their way to local legal aid providers are 'tied up' and subject to these federal limitations.

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