*This piece originally appeared on StateAG.org’s Tierney Blog.
It is an indictment of the current age that we must pause and applaud a rare moment of bipartisan cooperation around an incredibly important and seemingly uncontroversial issue. But such are the times.
This did not take place in the halls of Congress, of course, but rather among a group 32 state attorneys general, led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, a Democrat, and Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, a Republican. On May 22, the group sent letters to members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees declaring their bipartisan opposition to the Trump administration’s proposal to eliminate all federal funding to the Legal Services Corporation (LSC). The corporation is a grant-making organization created by Congress for the purpose of distributing federal appropriations to nonprofit organizations that provide civil legal assistance. This group of state AGs joins the American Bar Association, state judges, over 150 law firms and many other concerned groups in opposing this assault on civil legal services for low-income Americans. This includes the elderly and low-income military veterans and military families.
It is only fitting that a bipartisan coalition of public officials rallies around this organization. LSC’s conception began under President Lyndon Johnson’s “war on poverty” and culminated in the enactment of a bipartisan bill signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1974 that created the grant-funding organization. According to the LSC website, in describing the need for the organization, President Nixon wrote:
Here each day the old, the unemployed, the underprivileged, and the largely forgotten people of our Nation may seek help. Perhaps it is an eviction, a marital conflict, repossession of a car, or misunderstanding over a welfare check—each problem may have a legal solution. These are small claims in the Nation’s eye, but they loom large in the hearts and lives of poor Americans.