This issue of Clearinghouse Review: Journal of Poverty Law and Policy is the last in the journal's current form. The multi-topical issue’s articles are on the implications of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 for legal aid offices, victims' advocates, and housing providers; the District of Columbia Council’s curbing the abuses in tax lien foreclosure of homes; state fiscal policies ensuring adequate revenue for client services; the divided and unanimous decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013–2014 Term; a review of the first good casebook on poverty law to come along in 15 years; and applying self-affirmation techniques to legal self-help materials.
Legal aid offices and violence survivor advocacy organizations should join with housing providers and together implement the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA) of 2013. With this collaborative approach, they may create and execute model survivor policies that exceed the recent law’s requirements. Among other new provisions, VAWA 2013 establishes a right to transfer and protects sexual assault and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender survivors.
When homeowners fall behind in paying real property taxes, many states recoup the arrearages through a tax lien foreclosure. Homeowners often lose their equity in the process. Such tax sales hit seniors particularly hard. Advocates in Washington, D.C., curbed the abuses of tax sales by pushing the D.C. Council to pass a law reforming the system. The new law protects homeowners’ equity, enhances the notice to homeowners, and caps attorney fees charged to homeowners.
Many programs bolstering low-income families are funded by state budgets. In theory, spending cuts and tax cuts favoring the wealthy stimulate economic activity and generate new revenue. In Kansas, such cuts did not increase economic activity or cause job growth. In Minnesota, higher taxes on the wealthy and eliminating a corporate tax preference boosted funding for education and other public services. As in Minnesota, advocates must fight for state fiscal policies ensuring adequate revenue for client services.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013–2014 Term demonstrated an ideological divide in a slew of 5-to-4 decisions, notably Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, impeding access to health care. Sixty-five percent of the decisions this Term were unanimous, some decided on narrow grounds, many implicating access to federal courts. These decisions included rulings on class actions, standard of review, contractual statutes of limitation, preemption, finality of judgments, and timeliness of appeal.
Creating a Good Casebook on Poverty Law: Review of Juliet M. Brodie et al., Poverty Law, Policy, and Practice
Juliet Brodie, Claire Pastore, Ezra Rosser, and Jeffrey Selbin have wrangled the complicated issues of poverty law into a useful new casebook. They examine the changing nature of poverty law practice, how poverty itself has changed over the past 50 years, and the current access-to-justice crisis. They could have focused more on concentrated poverty and education, but still they have created a terrific resource for poverty law professors and students.
Legal self-help materials are a critical piece of the access-to-justice movement. But if those materials threaten a litigant’s sense of self-worth, the litigant may ignore their advice. Self-affirmation theory posits that people are more likely to be receptive to potentially threatening information if their self-worth is bolstered before they encounter the threatening information. Applying self-affirmation techniques to legal self-help materials may make them more effective.
The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law is "moving into a new era" for Clearinghouse Review: Journal of Poverty Law and Policy. "We are going back to making it free for all of its users, and we are going forward into the era of online publishing to keep the Review as powerful an organizing tool as it has ever been," says Shriver Center President John Bouman.