Washington, D.C. — Today, the White House announced that President Joe Biden will reestablish the White House Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable and direct the U.S. Justice Department to set a plan within 120 days to advance access to justice issues.
The Center for American Progress has highlighted the critical need for the federal government to reestablish its leadership on access to justice issues. Today’s announcement means that the government will play a key role in making sure the justice system delivers outcomes that are fair and accessible to all, regardless of wealth and status. It’s also critical to connect federal programs to individuals navigating the civil justice system, including in cases related to debt collection, eviction, and domestic violence.
“Federal leadership is essential to transform our current legal system, riddled with unacceptable inequalities, into one that works for all people,” said Maggie Jo Buchanan, director of Legal Progress at CAP. “Already, the administration has made clear its commitment to such a transformation by nominating a historic number of public defenders to the bench in just the past few months. Today’s announcement shows that the administration recognizes how important it is to lift up the vital perspectives of those with expertise in public defense, legal aid, and civil rights as we work toward a just system of law.”
“The timing is perfect for this exciting Biden-Harris administration leadership move, especially to accelerate the federal government’s response to its pandemic recovery efforts,” said Karen A. Lash, a senior fellow at CAP. “Civil justice problems are threaded throughout the most pressing problems for so many people, including housing stability, access to health care, obstacles to getting people back to work, and so much more.”
Maha Jweied, a senior fellow at CAP, noted that in his inaugural remarks, President Biden pledged to make “[t]he dream of justice for all … deferred no longer.” She added: “By signing today’s presidential memorandum and recommitting the federal government to strengthening access to justice for all, he brings us closer to that reality—one where justice is not dependent on where you live, how much money you have, or the color of your skin.”