By Alan Houseman
The National Equal Justice Library has set up this new blog for the 50th Anniversary of the War on Poverty to provide information about the accomplishments of the War on Poverty and on the critical role of civil legal aid programs in the anti-poverty efforts that began during the Lyndon Johnson administration and continue today.
The first blog by Earl Johnson, Jr. begins as series on the emergence of the legal services program as a component of the War on Poverty during 1964 and 1965. It will include future postings by Johnson and others who were there at the beginning of the federal legal services program.
The NEJL blog will also include a series of reflections on how the legal services program has effected major changes in the legal circumstances of low-income Americans. The blog will review major Supreme Court and appellate court decisions in cases that legal services attorneys brought that recognized the constitutional rights of the poor and interpreted statutes to protect their interests. The blog will also highlight administrative advocacy that assured effective implementation of laws and stimulated regulations and policies that helped shape programs affecting the poor. In addition, it will document how legislative advocacy helped the poor redress grievances that courts could not address. Finally, and just as important, the blog will discuss how representation before lower courts and administrative bodies helped individual clients enforce legal rights and take advantage of opportunities to improve their employment, income, education, housing, working and living conditions.
Another component of the blog will include references to scholarly publications as they are available, and announcements of and reports about events and programs relating to the 50th Anniversary that are to be held during the anniversary year. We will also include descriptions of resources about the War on Poverty from the NEJL collections, from other repositories, and from the broader policy world. In addition to resources on the history of civil legal aid, these will also include references to the many programs that come under the framework of the War on Poverty, such as Medicare and Medicaid, food stamps, Head Start and child care, job training and workforce development and many others.
While the NEJL will seek out authors for these blog postings, we welcome contributions from anyone who is willing to contribute. If you are interested in contributing blog entries, please contact the NEJL Project Archivist.
Alan W. Houseman is President of the Consortium for the National Equal Justice Library and a Senior Fellow at the Center for Law and Social Policy.