Remarks by LSC Board Chair John G. Levi | Supreme Court Reception

Washington, D.C.
May 3, 2017

Good evening.

As most of you know, I am John Levi, the 10th Chair of the Legal Services Corporation, and it is my pleasure to welcome you to this reception.

That was quite a Forum we had at Georgetown today, wasn’t it?

I see that many of the Forum’s outstanding speakers and panelists are still with us, so let’s acknowledge them with a round of applause.  

I want to again thank Chief Justice John Roberts for making this event possible and to Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who we are privileged to hear from shortly.

And most of our wonderfully serving LSC Board is here with us this evening and I would ask that each of you raise your hand so that you can be recognized for your outstanding service.

We’ll also hear remarks from another illustrious jurist, Senior Judge David Sentelle of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

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We are gathered here this evening on the eve of ABA Day, a three-day conference that brings together leaders of the ABA, as well as state and local bars from across the country, and they are here to appeal for robust funding of LSC.

ABA President Linda Klein sounded that theme when she delivered the closing remarks at the Georgetown Forum earlier today — and didn’t she do a great job.  ABA Day Chair Trish Refo is also here with us tonight.

We are so grateful for all this support. 

The mission we are pursuing with the help of the ABA, and so many others, is one central to our country: ensuring equal access to justice.

As Thomas Jefferson observed, “the most sacred of the duties of government is to do equal and impartial justice to all its citizens.”

That sentiment was further echoed by a celebrated member of this court, the late Justice Antonin Scalia, at LSC’s 40th anniversary three years ago.  At our anniversary, Justice Scalia powerfully declared:

“The American ideal is not for some justice, it is as the Pledge of Allegiance says, ‘liberty and justice for all,’ or as the Supreme Court pediment has it, ‘equal justice.’  I’ve always thought that’s somewhat redundant.  Can there be justice if it is not equal?  Can there be a just society when some do not have justice?  Equality, equal treatment, is perhaps the most fundamental element of justice.”

Every day, legal aid attorneys across our nation can be counted on to pursue this ideal with little fanfare and enormous dedication.

We must continue to not only recognize and celebrate these attorneys but also support them as they selflessly pursue making our legal system fair, equal, and just to all.

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Now, it my distinct pleasure to introduce my dear friend and LSC’s vice chair, Martha Minow.

Martha is also, as you know, Dean and renowned professor of the Harvard Law School. She once roamed these halls some time ago as a clerk to Justice Thurgood Marshall.  But it wasn’t too long ago.

Joining the Harvard Law faculty as an assistant professor in 1981, Martha became the Jeremiah Smith Jr., Professor of Law in 2005, and in 2009, Harvard Law wisely selected her dean.

In the next few months, Martha will step down from the Deanship.  I want to take a moment here to acknowledge her service to Harvard and to LSC.  It amazes me that, somehow, she manages to juggle the huge responsibility of overseeing one of the world’s great law schools, together with her time devoted to LSC — all the while answering my weekly, and sometimes daily, phone calls.  We have all benefitted — and continue to benefit — from her tremendous wisdom and service. 

Thank you, Martha.