By the President of the United States of America
The preamble to the Constitution reminds us that our great Nation was founded "to establish Justice ... and secure the Blessings of Liberty ... ." The very nature of justice demands that it be available to all. True justice cannot be rationed-it cannot be accorded to some while others are denied the full benefit of their rights. Our Founders understood that privilege and responsibility are inextricably linked. The words "Equal Justice under the Law," inscribed over the portal of our highest court, represent a solemn promise made to every American.
Twenty years ago, the Legal Services Corporation was created to help keep that promise, promoting equal access to justice by making high-quality legal assistance in civil matters available to those who would otherwise be unable to attain it.
In designing the Legal Services Corporation the Congress recognized the need for an independent entity, protected from political interference, to support local programs that would be accountable to their own communities. Legal Services was designed to ensure that all Americans needing assistance are provided with legal representatives whose responsibility is to fully protect and defend their clients' best interests according to the highest standards of professional obligation.
For two decades, the Legal Services Corporation has fulfilled that mandate. It supports local legal services programs that operate under the auspices of their own Boards of Directors, which are made up of clients and representatives of the local bar. Today, the Corporation supports 323 programs operating in over 900 neighborhood offices across the Nation. In addition, more than 130,000 private attorneys volunteer their time and energy toward activities associated with local legal services projects.
Legal Services programs extend assistance to more than 1.5 million people every year, vindicating their rights, resolving their disputes, and offering a means of improving their lives. Dedicated attorneys, paralegals, staff, Board members, and volunteers have worked with unflinching commitment, often under adverse conditions, to serve those whose rights and interests they represent. Legal Services has won the respect of the judiciary, the organized bar, and the client community. For many Americans, the existence of legal services has renewed their faith in our government of laws.
On the 20th anniversary of the Legal Services Corporation, I reaffirm our national commitment to equal access to justice, to decency, to fair play. I voice my deep respect for those who have given so much to keep those principles alive over the years.
Now, Therefore, I, William J. Clinton, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim the week of September 26 through October 2, 1994, as "National Legal Services Week." I urge all Americans to join me in recognizing the contributions that the Legal Services Corporation and the local programs that it supports have made in fulfilling the promise of equal justice under the law, and I call upon the people of the United States to observe this week with appropriate ceremonies and activities.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-sixth day of September, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and nineteenth.
William J. Clinton
[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 4:32 p.m., September 27, 1994]