With 63 million Americans—including 22 million children—qualifying for assistance, LSC is the nation’s single largest provider of civil legal aid to citizens who live on incomes below or near the poverty line. Independent LSC-funded local programs like Legal Aid of the Bluegrass help meet the overwhelming legal needs of struggling families, veterans, disaster victims and the elderly in every state. In 2010, LSC-funded aid providers in Kentucky closed more than 19,000 cases including child custody matters, foreclosures and veterans claims.
Last year, as chairman of the full House Appropriations Committee, Rogers worked to prevent a potentially devastating $104.2 million (25.7 percent) cut to the LSC budget of $404.2 million in fiscal year 2010. While the House of Representatives proposed funding LSC at $300 million, the Senate favored an allocation of $396 million. Ultimately, funding was set at $348 million.
Rogers also supported funding for the John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment Program, which offers student loan assistance to lawyers who agree to serve their communities for at least three years by working as public defenders or prosecutors. While these roles are fundamental to our system of justice, educational debt prevents many qualified lawyers from pursuing careers in public interest law. Recruiting and retention issues lead to overwhelming workloads that can slow the administration of justice and have real consequence for victims of crimes and defendants. Thanks in part to Rogers, Kentucky received $60,570 for fiscal year 2012 to distribute to eligible attorneys “who have the least ability to pay their loans.”
“As chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Congressman Rogers is an outspoken advocate for Kentucky’s 5th Congressional District and a true friend in funding our system of justice,” said ABA President Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III.
Rogers will receive one of the six ABA Congressional Justice Awards that will be given as part of the ABA’s annual effort to connect policymakers with constituents in the legal profession. ABA Day 2012 brings distinguished lawyers from 50 states to Washington, D.C., to discuss issues such as funding for LSC, the Violence Against Women Act, and the collection of overdue state court-ordered fees.
Other recipients of the 2012 ABA Congressional Justice Award include Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD-7th), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI).