Courts & Crime

Legal Services Corporation celebrates birthday, and survival

The Legal Services Corporation is a survivor.

Long in the crosshairs of conservative lawmakers, who have tried repeatedly to kill or at least cripple it, the Legal Services Corporation has instead endured to the point where it is celebrating its 40th anniversary this week with a gaggle of luminaries.

In a sign of its institutional stature, the federal legal aid organization has attracted the diverse likes this week of Justice Antonin Scalia, who is speaking at lunch Monday, and Vice President Joe Biden, who is speaking at lunch Tuesday. Justice Elena Kagan spoke Sunday.

The lawmakers who loathe it, meanwhile, have failed to make their case. Most recently, on May 29, the House rejected by a 116 to 290 margin an amendment by Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., to eliminate the LSC’s $350 million budget. Tellingly, 104 Republicans joined all 186 voting Democrats to reject the defunding bid.

Scott’s efforts to kill the LSC are essentially symbolic at this point, in 2012, he attracted only 122 votes on his amendment to eliminate funding.

The LSC supports local nonprofit organizations via grants for the delivery of civil legal assistance to low-income Americans.