The global pandemic has led to a disturbing and unfortunate increase in levels of domestic violence and child abuse, and more resources must be made available, so the victims have the ability to seek legal protections, such as restraining orders. Join the ABA from April 20 - 21 as legal professionals from around the country will petition Congress to include $350 - $500 million of supplemental funding for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), the nation’s largest provider of domestic violence legal aid.
The country is full of shocking stories from survivors of domestic violence who have been confined in their homes with their abusers. In one instance, a judge in Michigan, who was conducting a virtual hearing on a domestic violence case, stopped the proceedings to call the police when he realized the defendant was sitting in the same room as the victim.
As the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) noted, “the home may not be safe for many families who experience domestic violence, which may include both intimate partners and children. COVID-19 has caused major economic devastation, disconnected many from community resources and support systems, and created widespread uncertainty and panic. Such conditions may lead to violence in families where it didn’t exist before and worsen situations in homes where mistreatment and violence has been a problem.”
LSC provides vital legal services to these victims, and LSC grantee reports appear to confirm the SAMHSA predictions. LSC’s January 19, 2021 letter to the U.S. Congress in support of its request for $350-500 million in additional emergency appropriations noted that domestic violence cases have “doubled during the pandemic, including, but not limited to Emergency Orders of Protection, virtual hearings, and accessing domestic violence shelters.” This is also supported by reports from entities that seek to aid victims of domestic violence, such as police departments and emergency hotlines. Overall, according to LSC, 86 percent of its grantees have reported increased requests for assistance on issues related to domestic violence.
A tidal wave of need has risen from the pandemic crisis that has devastated many of America’s low-income families. Congress must act to address the situation before it is too late by ensuring there are enough attorneys present to provide much-needed legal counsel for as many Americans as possible.
LSC is currently in the best position to help. Grantees already provide essential legal services that directly benefit more than 1.8 million low-income Americans, with 71.6 percent being women. LSC is also already in every state and congressional district across the country with funds going to over 800 offices.
As a non-partisan charitable organization, LSC traditionally receives broad political support from Members of Congress who serve in both the House and Senate.
So, how do we point Congress in the right direction? On ABA Day, legal professionals from around the country will meet virtually with their Senators and Representatives. To support those meetings, we are going to send emails, post on social media, send letters, mail postcards, post op-eds, and more on the days of the event.
By using the ABA Advocacy Center, you will be able to edit and send pre-formatted social media posts and emails that are guaranteed to make it through congressional firewalls.
After entering you name, email, and home address (to identify your elected officials) you will be given several options to message your US lawmakers directly, and in only a few clicks. We also have infographics, one-pagers, printable postcards, and instructions on how to have your voice make the most impact.
In these messages, we will be asking Congress to include $350-$500 million of emergency funding in any forthcoming pandemic relief or regular appropriation measures.
If you would like to join a virtual meeting with your Members of Congress, just let us know and we will connect you with your State Captain. Never been in an advocacy meeting before? No problem. You can simply add your support by being there and learn the ropes for next year.
To explore the issue, the ABA Governmental Affairs Office will host two days of LSC Advocates and Keynote speakers, including University of Michigan Football coach Jim Harbaugh, prominent US Senators and Representatives, LSC grantees, client stories, and so much more.
Equal Justice Under the Law is a foundational principle of the U.S. legal system, and Congress should uphold America’s commitment by providing LSC with the necessary resources to ensure that every citizen has access to civil legal counsel, regardless of social status or wealth. Join us in showing Congress the way.
For more information on this and other ABA Day activities, please visit ambar.org/abaday.