Law Day Statement of LSC Board Chair John Levi

On May 1 each year, Law Day provides us an opportunity to reflect on the role of law in our society. This year’s theme, “Toward a More Perfect Union: The Constitution in Times of Change,” focuses on the heart of our nation’s values. 

The very first sentence of the Constitution's preamble begins: "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice."

From the very beginning, justice is a promise of America, a core value. For millions of low-income Americans, however, this promise has not been kept. 

LSC released compelling new evidence of this a few days ago in its report, “The Justice Gap: The Unmet Civil Legal Needs of Low-income Americans,” which found that poor Americans did not receive any or enough legal help for 92% of the problems that had a substantial impact on their lives. And these were not rare experiences: 74% of low-income households experienced at least one civil legal problem in the past year. 

This discrepancy between the legal needs of low-income people and the resources available to meet those needs has unfortunately created a vast justice gap.  

Our nation’s most vulnerable citizens have been denied access to justice for far too long. The Law Day resolution refers to “times of change.” So let this be a time of change, when we do what we need to do to provide the funding necessary to afford equal access to all. 

That is why the LSC Board of Directors has requested a Congressional appropriation of $1.26 billion for 2023, a sum sufficient to close the justice gap and remain true to this promise enshrined in the opening words of the Constitution. 

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 132 independent nonprofit legal aid programs in every state, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories.

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