NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Despite Abuses, Legal Services Survives

July 31, 1998

The Legal Services Corporation was created in 1974 to help low-income families with legal problems. But the agency has a history of turning away poor clients with valid legal needs in favor of concentrating on left-wing political projects, critics say.

Kenneth F. Boehm, a former counsel to the LSC board, has compiled a list of the organization's abuses. Here are a few examples:

  • A Massachusetts LSC affiliate sued to have a lottery winner who had spent his $75,000 in winnings on drugs and gambling reinstated to welfare rolls.
  • An affiliate in Buffalo, N.Y., sued in 1996 to help a man collect disability -- even though a judge had found that his only disability was laziness.
  • An LSC grantee successfully sued the Social Security Administration to make it pay benefits to substance abusers -- resulting in a $1.4 billion a year pay-out to 250,000 drug addicts and alcoholics.

Although a House subcommittee has recommended that the LSC budget be cut from $283 million to $141 million, the Senate last week voted to boost it to $300 million.

Experts say poor people in need of legal representation aren't suffering. Lawyers throughout the nation donated pro bono hours valued at $3.3 billion to the poor in 1995. That effort dwarfs the LSC budget for that year of $400 million.

Source: Editorial, "Legal Aid or Legal Activism?" Investor's Business Daily, July 31, 1998.  


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