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A national survey of economically disadvantaged Americans, conducted prior to recent reductions in and restrictions on government-funded legal services programs, found that 80% of the legal problems of the poor were handled without legal assistance. Undoubtedly, the current reductions and restrictions have only made matters worse.
The widespread and pervasive denial of legal assistance to the poor has profound political and moral implications for our social order. In his classic study Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville observed that "[s]carcely any political question arises in the United States that is not resolved, sooner or later, into a judicial question." He further asserted that in the United States the power of lawyers "extends over the whole community."
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