The Unlikely Persistence of the Legal Services Corporation: The Politics of Bureaucratic Control
25 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2013
Date Written: 2013
The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) was created in 1974 to replace the Office of Economic Opportunity’s (OEO) Legal Services Program through the enactment of the LSC Act. The original act was enacted under a Republican president and a Democratic majority in Congress and since has been subject to extreme budget cuts, zero funding threats, and tighter restrictions to its organizational mandate. Despite all of these challenges, the LSC persists as the single largest grant maker and monitor of the provision of civil legal services to the poor in the United States. While there has been historical work done on the formation of the LSC via the LSC Act, political science has not fully given consideration to the LSC as an interesting case of institutional stickiness. Despite the numerous threats to the LSC’s survival over time, the LSC persists, even through periods of Republican control. When is the LSC limited through restrictions to its mandate, independence, and funding? How does the LSC evolve and who joins coalitions supporting these changes? What reasoning is provided in support of changes? Informed by a bureaucratic control framework, I begin to investigate trends in political attention to the LSC by employing both an overview of the LSC’s political history as well as a new dataset highlighting the content of introductions concerning the LSC.
Keywords: bureaucratic autonomy, agency, Congress, bureaucratic control, legal services, legal aid, legal services corporation
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