President Joe Biden directed the U.S. Attorney General to submit a plan within four months to expand the Department of Justice’s access to justice work.
The President also announced that he and Vice President Kamala Harris would re-establish the White House Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable to prioritize civil legal aid and expand access to federal programs.
The directives are part of the administration’s efforts to expand access to legal representation and the courts.
“As President Biden knows from his experience as a public defender, timely and affordable access to the legal system can make all the difference in a person’s life – including by keeping an individual out of poverty, keeping an individual in his or her home, helping an unaccompanied child seek asylum, helping someone fight a consumer scam, or ensuring that an individual charged with a crime can mount a strong defense and receive a fair trial,” White House officials commented in a Fact Sheet.
“But low-income people have long struggled to secure quality access to the legal system. Those challenges have only increased during the public health and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the administration noted.
“At the same time, civil legal aid providers and public defenders have been under-resourced, understaffed, and unable to reach some of the people in greatest need of their services.”
According to a memorandum, to restore the Department of Justice’s leadership in this area, President Biden is directing Attorney General Merritt Garland to submit a report to the President within 120 days that outlines the Department’s plan to expand its access to justice work.
The President ordered the Justice Department to start this work immediately.