Resource: Legal Services Corporation v. Velazquez

By: Oyez

February 28, 2001


The Legal Services Corporation Act authorizes the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) to distribute funds, appropriated by Congress, to local grantee organizations, which provide free legal assistance to indigent clients in welfare benefits claims. The Omnibus Consolidated Rescissions and Appropriations Act of 1996 prohibited the LSC from funding any organization that represented clients in an effort to amend or challenge existing welfare law, among other things. The prohibition was such that grantees could not continue representation in a welfare matter even where a constitutional or statutory validity challenge became apparent after representation was well under way. LSC grantee lawyers and others filed suit to have the restriction declared unconstitutional. The District Court denied a preliminary injunction. However, the Court of Appeals invalidated the restriction, concluding that it was impermissible viewpoint discrimination that violated the First Amendment.