Wednesday, March 1, 2017
As you may know, current drafts of the Trump administration's budget proposal call for the elimination of the Legal Services Corporation, the primary funding agency for civil legal aid in this country. Here's an excerpt from an op-ed I published in yesterday's Minneapolis Star-Tribune making the case for why President Trump should be a champion of civil legal aid:
The working poor who voted for Donald Trump weren’t looking for a handout — they were looking for a voice. Legal aid attorneys have been a voice for the voiceless for decades, enabling those on society’s margins to stay in their homes, with their kids, and in their jobs. In upending the establishment, Trump voters asked for a champion. Working with Congress to maintain support for legal aid is one way for our new president to show that he was listening.
The future of the LSC should be of particular concern to those who take Catholic social teaching seriously. As Saint John Paul II explained, “Love for others, and in the first place love for the poor, in whom the Church sees Christ himself, is made concrete in the promotion of justice.” (Centesimus annus ¶ 58) Closing our nation's justice gap depends on support from state and local governments, law firms, law schools, foundations, and a broad spectrum of private philanthropy. The LSC’s support, however, is irreplaceable, not just as a matter of practical reality, but as an affirmation of our political community’s properly formed priorities. The Church teaches that the state is responsible to cultivate the conditions by which “the common good may be attained by the contribution of every citizen.” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church ¶168) By helping ensure access to our justice system, the LSC empowers individuals and families to contribute to the common good.
Now is the time to speak up on behalf of the LSC's vital contributions to our society.