This Month's Articles

Congress weighs FY 2018 appropriations in light of president’s budget proposals

As Congress began considering fiscal year 2018 appropriations levels, ABA President Linda A. Klein warned last month that steep budget cuts proposed by the White House “would severely undermine the fairness of the legal system and deny access to justice for some of society’s most vulnerable individuals. America must not compromise on the principles that justice is accessible to all and all are equal under the law,” she said, pointing that those affected by the proposed budget cuts include veterans, children, the elderly, people with disabilities, people in poverty, families suffering after natural disasters, and survivors of domestic violence.

ABA seeks summary judgment in PSLF lawsuit

The ABA and four individual plaintiffs are seeking a summary judgment in the lawsuit they filed last year against the Department of Education after the department rescinded without explanation employees’ job eligibility determinations under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF) and notified ABA employees and others who had previously been approved for participation in the program that they no longer qualified. A Motion and Memorandum in Support of Summary Judgment, filed May 24 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, asks the court to compel the department to stop issuing retroactive denials of PSLF eligibility and restore the plaintiffs’ eligibility for the program.

Congress makes progress toward juvenile justice reform

Following House passage last month of bipartisan legislation to revise and reauthorize the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974 (JJDPA), attention now turns to the Senate, where Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) has introduced a bill cosponsored by a bipartisan group of senators. H.R. 1809, which passed the House May 23 by a voice vote, is similar to legislation passed by the House and approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee last Congress.

Bill would strip protections from unaccompanied immigrant children

The House Judiciary Committee approved a bill June 21 that the ABA maintains would strip critical legal and other protections from unaccompanied immigrant children and undermine the fairness and integrity of the immigration system. Even though the bill, H.R. 495, is titled the Protection of Children Act, ABA Governmental Affairs Director Thomas M. Susman wrote to the committee June 14 that its provisions instead would subject unaccompanied children to additional screening, lengthen the period of time that children may be held in custody, and weaken existing language that facilitates their access to counsel.

Senate bill would help provide legal services to homeless veterans

Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) recently introduced bipartisan ABA-supported legislation to enhance the availability of legal services to homeless veterans. S. 1072 is similar to H.R. 1993, which was introduced in April by Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio). Both bills would allow the secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) to partner with public and private entities to provide legal services to veterans who are homeless and those who are at risk of homelessness.

LSC “Justice Gap” report describes nation’s unmet legal needs

A new report unveiled June 14 by the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) revealed that low-income Americans receive inadequate or no professional legal help for 86 percent of the civil legal problems they face in a given year. At an event on Capitol Hill, LSC President James J. Sandman said the report, The Justice Gap: Measuring the Unmet Civil Legal Needs of Low-income Americans, showed that the “vast majority of low-income Americans have significant civil legal needs that affect their families, their livelihoods, and their safety, and that our civil legal system fails, overwhelmingly, to meet those needs.”

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The ABA Washington Letter is a monthly publication produced by the Governmental Affairs Office to report and analyze congressional and executive branch action on legislative issues of interest to the ABA and the legal profession. The newsletter highlights ABA involvement in the federal legislative process and focuses on the association's legislative and governmental priorities and other issues on which the ABA has policy.

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