August 26, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, DC -- Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) will be remembered at the Legal Services Corporation and at civil legal aid organizations throughout the nation as a champion for equal access to justice, LSC President Helaine M. Barnett said today.
"Senator Kennedy's longtime support for LSC was invaluable and consequential for the clients and communities that are served by LSC-funded legal aid attorneys every day," LSC President Barnett said. "In addition to civil legal assistance, his extraordinary career in public service focused on legislation and issues of utmost importance to the poor -- employment, health care and education."
Senator Kennedy was chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions at the time of his death. The committee oversees LSC and approves nominees for the Corporation's Board of Directors.
During congressional debates in 1973 and 1974 on the creation of LSC, Senator Kennedy was a key leader, working with Senate colleagues and the White House to build a broad base of support for civil legal services and for approval of the law that established the Corporation.
In May, Senator Kennedy called for increasing the LSC budget to at least $435 million in Fiscal Year 2010, up from $390 million. He was the lead sponsor of a letter to Senate appropriators that was signed by 52 other senators. In March, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) introduced a bill to reauthorize LSC and Senator Kennedy joined as a cosponsor. "In these difficult times, effective legal assistance for American families struggling to make ends meet is more important than ever," Senator Kennedy said, adding that "we all benefit when the rule of law works for everyone."
LSC is the single largest funder of civil legal assistance for the poor in the nation. Established by Congress in 1974, LSC operates as a private, nonprofit organization to promote equal access to justice and to ensure the provision of high-quality legal assistance to low-income Americans.