April 9, 2019
“For poor people, the legal issues they are confronting are existential issues happening in the every day. Civil justice is not a metaphysical thing. It is a real life issue for people.” – Ken Frazier, CEO of Merck, speaking at the 45th Anniversary Celebration of the Legal Services Corporation, April 8, 2019
Every spring, OneJustice prepares to remind Congress about its fundamental duty to keep our country’s legal system–to keep justice–within everyone’s reach. The sad reality is that for far too many Americans, they do not have equal access to justice because they face legal barriers to basic needs, they cannot afford to hire an attorney to help them, and unlike in the criminal justice system, they have no right for an attorney to be provided to them at no cost. Instead, they have to rely on their local civil legal aid nonprofit to get the legal help they need. And those nonprofits rely on critically important federal funding through the Legal Services Corporation.
This is why OneJustice visits with California’s Members of Congress every spring. Partnering with the American Bar Association (“ABA”), we travel to Washington D.C. to try to meet with all 55 of our state’s representatives and senators. Last year, in 2018, OneJustice met with thirty-two congressional offices and the ABA was able to meet with six others.
Our message to Congress is simple: Keep funding the federal Legal Services Corporation (“LSC”).
And make no mistake – this federal funding is under attack. Just this month, for the third year in a row, White House proposed to eliminate federal funding for legal aid (see page 99). So today we have six staff members en route to Capitol Hill. For the next three days, we will be unrelenting in our message as we walk the corridors of the U.S. House and Senate. We will remind Congress about why it created LSC in the first place and what is at stake for our society. We will bring stories about the many Californians who have received they legal help they needed from legal services nonprofits in California. We also plan to live blog, post, and tweet to you as we meet with your representatives. Please join us online and help us carry the message!
For updates about federal legal aid policy, and opportunities to contact your Members of Congress, sign up for our Californians for Legal Aid alerts, here.