the most fundamental of American ideals and they pursue equal justice in those areas of life most important to the lives of our citizens. The bulk of [their] cases, if you look at their annual report, involve domestic violence, real estate foreclosures and evictions, child custody, and denial of veterans’ benefits, unemployment compensation, and other governmental benefits. More than a third of the cases closed by [Legal Services] grantees in 2013 involved family law and more than a quarter of them housing.
Scalia asked, “Can there be justice if it is not equal, can there be a just society when some do not have justice?”
And he answered,
Equality, equal treatment is perhaps the most fundamental element of justice. . . . And in today’s law-ridden society, denial of access to professional legal assistance is denial of equal justice.”
It’s fair (more than fair, it’s necessary ) to explore alternative means of delivering equal justice: technology, delivery of services by others than licensed lawyers, new sources of funding. Indeed, it’s reasonable to hope that those who develop new alternatives will be able to do it on a for-profit basis and make lots of money. (The scale is surely there.)
But it’s not right to cut funds before alternatives are available.
Justice Scalia said:
Equality … is perhaps the most fundamental element of justice.