Cuts proposed to LSC budget would affect ILS

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Among approximately 70 proposed budget cuts, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee has proposed cutting $75 million, or 17 percent of the budget for the Legal Services Corporation, which funds 136 civil legal aid programs around the country, the committee announced Wednesday. The full list of proposed cuts is on the committee’s website.

In Indiana, Indiana Legal Services Inc. receives about two-thirds of its funding from LSC. For 2010, ILS received $5.8 million and has budgeted 2011 based on the 2010 budget.

The current and immediate past chairs of the board of LSC, the president of the American Bar Association, and the executive director of ILS have all spoken out against this proposed cut.

Norman Metzger, executive director of ILS, said even a hypothetical 5 percent cut, or about $291,000 if there’s an omnibus budget passed with a 5 percent cut across the board, would be a difficult loss for ILS to handle at this time.

“I’m very concerned,” he said. “We’re stable, but I struggled after three years of convincing my board to give a pay raise. … Any kind of cuts to our funding will be devastating.”

He added that other funding for the organization has taken a hit, including United Way support and other grants the organization receives to make up the other third of its funding.

“Any cut is harmful, but when you combine one cut here with one cut there, it’s even worse,” he said.

Metzger said he’s not sure if there will be a 17 percent cut because the legislative process may change the actual amount and that the budget will still need approval from the U.S. Senate and the president. Something will be decided by early March, and if there is a large cut, he said, it is unfortunate but he will need to make some decisions about ILS-funded programs.

In their statement issued late Wednesday, LSC Board Chairman John G. Levi and Frank B. Strickland, immediate past chair, wrote “Nearly 57 million Americans are now eligible for LSC-funded services and the numbers are growing because of hardships created by the nation’s weak economy. LSC-funded programs are making every effort to extend their resources as far as they can possibly go, but because of the enormous need, they have had no choice but to turn away far too many people because of inadequate resources, as documented by previous Justice Gap Reports issued by LSC. Many of these programs have already suffered a significant decline in state and local funding.”

“This is the time to reflect on the words of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr: ‘Equal justice under law is not merely a caption on the facade of the Supreme Court building, it is perhaps the most inspiring ideal of our society. It is one of the ends for which our entire legal system exists ... it is fundamental that justice should be the same, in substance and availability, without regard to economic status,’” they continued.

ABA President Stephen N. Zack also issued a statement about the proposed cuts.

“Slashing funds that keep working class and poor people from falling into a legal and financial tailspin is not the right decision in this economy. Every cent spent helping families deal with crises such as eviction, child support and custody, or a domestic violence restraining order ultimately saves taxpayer money. Financial and emotional costs grow when problems go unsolved,” Zack wrote. “ … Legal aid providers in every area of the country are already hurting from years of underfunding, worsened by the effects of the recession. That is shocking and unacceptable, and in the name of justice for all, we will not allow it to happen.”

House Appropriations Committee Chair Hal Rogers said the cuts in this bill “will represent the largest reduction in discretionary spending in the history of our nation. While making these cuts is hard, we have a unique opportunity to right our fiscal ship and begin to reduce our massive deficits and debt. We have taken a wire brush to the discretionary budget and scoured every program to find real savings that are responsible and justifiable to the American people. … We will respond to the millions of Americans who have called on this Congress to rein in spending to help our economy grow and our businesses create jobs.”


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  1. Especially I would like to see all the republican voting patriotic good ole boys to stop and understand that the wars they have been volunteering for all along (especially the past decade at least) have not been for God & Jesus etc no far from it unless you think George Washington's face on the US dollar is god (and we know many do). When I saw the movie about Chris Kyle, I thought wow how many Hoosiers are just like this guy, out there taking orders to do the nasty on the designated bad guys, sometimes bleeding and dying, sometimes just serving and coming home to defend a system that really just views them as reliable cannon fodder. Maybe if the Christians of the red states would stop volunteering for the imperial legions and begin collecting welfare instead of working their butts off, there would be a change in attitude from the haughty professorial overlords that tell us when democracy is allowed and when it isn't. To come home from guarding the borders of the sandbox just to hear if they want the government to protect this country's borders then they are racists and bigots. Well maybe the professorial overlords should gird their own loins for war and fight their own battles in the sandbox. We can see what kind of system this really is from lawsuits like this and we can understand who it really serves. NOT US.... I mean what are all you Hoosiers waving the flag for, the right of the president to start wars of aggression to benefit the Saudis, the right of gay marriage, the right for illegal immigrants to invade our country, and the right of the ACLU to sue over displays of Baby Jesus? The right of the 1 percenters to get richer, the right of zombie banks to use taxpayer money to stay out of bankruptcy? The right of Congress to start a pissing match that could end in WWIII in Ukraine? None of that crud benefits us. We should be like the Amish. You don't have to go far from this farcical lawsuit to find the wise ones, they're in the buggies in the streets not far away....

  2. Moreover, we all know that the well heeled ACLU has a litigation strategy of outspending their adversaries. And, with the help of the legal system well trained in secularism, on top of the genuinely and admittedly secular 1st amendment, they have the strategic high ground. Maybe Christians should begin like the Amish to withdraw their services from the state and the public and become themselves a "people who shall dwell alone" and foster their own kind and let the other individuals and money interests fight it out endlessly in court. I mean, if "the people" don't see how little the state serves their interests, putting Mammon first at nearly every turn, then maybe it is time they wake up and smell the coffee. Maybe all the displays of religiosity by American poohbahs on down the decades have been a mask of piety that concealed their own materialistic inclinations. I know a lot of patriotic Christians don't like that notion but I entertain it more and more all the time.

  3. If I were a judge (and I am not just a humble citizen) I would be inclined to make a finding that there was no real controversy and dismiss them. Do we allow a lawsuit every time someone's feelings are hurt now? It's preposterous. The 1st amendment has become a sword in the hands of those who actually want to suppress religious liberty according to their own backers' conception of how it will serve their own private interests. The state has a duty of impartiality to all citizens to spend its judicial resources wisely and flush these idiotic suits over Nativity Scenes down the toilet where they belong... however as Christians we should welcome them as they are the very sort of persecution that separates the sheep from the wolves.

  4. What about the single mothers trying to protect their children from mentally abusive grandparents who hide who they truly are behind mounds and years of medication and have mentally abused their own children to the point of one being in jail and the other was on drugs. What about trying to keep those children from being subjected to the same abuse they were as a child? I can understand in the instance about the parent losing their right and the grandparent having raised the child previously! But not all circumstances grant this being OKAY! some of us parents are trying to protect our children and yes it is our God given right to make those decisions for our children as adults!! This is not just black and white and I will fight every ounce of this to get denied

  5. Mr Smith the theory of Christian persecution in Indiana has been run by the Indiana Supreme Court and soundly rejected there is no such thing according to those who rule over us. it is a thought crime to think otherwise.