LANGUAGE ACCESS AT NCSC
The Language Access Services Section (LASS) provides state courts with resources to overcome language barriers in the courts and to ensure that providing individuals with limited English proficiency with access to the courts is a core function of the courts.
Issue: Legal Services Corporation (LSC)
Funding for the Legal Corporation Services (LSC) has plummeted since its founding. This has worsened the “justice gap” for poorer populations across the country.
State court leaders have repeatedly called for increased funding for LSC and opposed any cuts in funding.
Appropriation shortfalls over the years have caused a reduction of legal services to low income persons facing housing losses, domestic violence, and other effects from the 2008 economic recession and recent weather-related disasters.
CCJ and COSCA Government Affairs Committee published an information-rich “white paper” to assist CCJ and COSCA leaders in making effective entreaties to members of Congress to help stave off efforts to defund the LSC during funding cycles.
For FY 2017 the LSC received a $385 million appropriation – the amount of funding available in FY 2016.
Responding to an invitation from the LSC Board, the Presidents of CCJ and COSCA sent a letter in June 2017 to the LSC Board urging that it request the Congress to provide robust funding for the LSC in FY 2019.
Also in June, the LSC released a highly informative report “The Justice Gap: Measuring the Unmet Civil Legal Needs of Low-Income Americans.”
For FY 2018 the House Appropriation Committee recommended a $300M appropriation for the LSC – a $85 million (M) cut to its current budget. The full Senate Appropriations Committee approved $385M for LSC. However, Congress adopted a continuing resolution (CR) to keep FY 2017 appropriations levels in place for the whole federal government until 1/9/18.
In the wake of disasters caused by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, an emergency supplemental budget is being crafted by the majority and ranking leaders of the House and Senate. Chief Justice Hecht has orchestrated communications from the chief justices of affected states and territories to their state delegations to Congress urging each Senator and Representative to support robust emergency funding for LSC in any emergency supplemental appropriation for this fiscal year. Thereafter, the House of Representatives passed an emergency supplemental appropriation bill that would provide $1 million to LSC for disaster relief services. The Senate has not scheduled action on an emergency supplemental appropriation.