Legal Services Corp. v. Velazquez

The Legal Services Corporation Act authorizes petitioner Legal Services Corporation (LSC) to distribute funds appropriated by Congress to local grantee organizations providing free legal assistance to indigent clients in, inter alia, welfare benefits claims. In every annual appropriations Act since 1996, Congress has prohibited LSC funding of any organization that represented clients in an effort to amend or otherwise challenge existing welfare law. Grantees cannot continue representation in a welfare matter even where a constitutional or statutory validity challenge becomes apparent after representation is well under way. Respondents-lawyers employed by LSC grantees, together with othersfiled suit to declare, inter alia, the restriction invalid. The District Court denied them a preliminary injunction, but the Second Circuit invalidated the restriction, finding it impermissible viewpoint discrimination that violated the First Amendment.

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