As Jews, the people of the Torah, we reaffirm our deep respect for law as an equitable means of bringing justice to the world. The Torah commands us, "Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment; thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor favor the person of the mighty; but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbor." (Leviticus l9:l5) We believe that the administration's substantial cuts in legal service funding places justice out of reach of the poor. We hold that the provision of legal services for the poor exemplified what a just government should do for its people.
Legal representation should not be considered a luxury. We live in a system in which the primary means of resolving disputes is the judicial process. Moreover, the Constitution guarantees the same legal protection to all. The tenets of equality before the law and opportunity to defend one's legal rights in court are rendered meaningless if access to the judicial system in civil cases is contingent on the amount of one's financial assets.
By providing the poor-whether white, minority, women or elderly-with access to the courts and by defending the legal rights of those who cannot afford legal counsel, the Legal Services Corporation fosters the value of equality before the law. Legal Services' success in the courts reaffirms the faith in and respect for the legal process of those who have previously been helpless to exercise their legal rights.
In this era of powerful interest groups, Legal Service lawyers provide a conduit to our government for the interests of the poor. Without such advocates, the poor and the elderly might be too easily forgotten.
We reaffirm our statement made at the 48th General Assembly in 1965 in support of creating the Legal Services Corporation that "We have...learned that justice is served far better and differences are settled more rationally within the system than on the streets."
THEREFORE, the UAHC:
- Calls upon the Congress to fund a strong Legal Services Corporation that is free from political influence.
- Calls upon state and local governments to replace whatever funding may be lost as a result of a decrease in federal support for legal services.
- Calls upon the president to nominate and Congress to confirm directors of the Corporation who are committed to and will further its purposes.
Oppose attempts to limit:
- The type of cases that the Legal Services Corporation may bring-particularly class action suits;
- The legal forum in which the Corporation can bring suits; and
- The type of poor person that the Legal Services Corporation can represent.