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2011 November - December

A Dream Foreclosed? Using the Equal Credit Opportunity Act to Challenge and Prevent Foreclosures

By Jennifer D. Newton & Tamara St. Hilaire

The Equal Credit Opportunity Act forbids creditors from considering race and other prohibited factors when extending offers of credit. The Act contains antidiscriminatory provisions and notice requirements that can be used affirmatively to prevent foreclosure or as a defense in a foreclosure action. The Act can be a powerful tool in combating foreclosures resulting from subprime lending that targeted minorities and other vulnerable groups.

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An Emerging Issue in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Should Participants Be Subject to New Identification Requirements?

By Daniel Lesser & Deanne Millison

Several states have adopted or are considering legislation that would establish identification for recipients of Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits when the recipients use their electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards. This legislation is apparently driven by the unfounded myth that trafficking of SNAP benefits is rampant. In reality, trafficking is a declining problem, and the photo identification requirements on EBT cards would prove costly to states.

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Should States Allow Poor People to Use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Benefits at Fast-Food Chains?

By Barbara Jones

The alarming rise in hunger in the United States has prompted some states to authorize fast-food restaurants to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. The Restaurant Meals Program allows elderly, disabled, and homeless SNAP recipients to use their benefits in restaurants. Allowing more people to use their benefits in fast-food restaurants has incited a high-profile debate between hunger advocates and health advocates. As more states consider allowing SNAP recipients to use their benefits in fast-food restaurants, they should push fast-food restaurants to limit sodium and trans-fats in their products and increase access to healthy foods in poor neighborhoods.

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Access Issues in the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 Term

Litigation Is Not Getting Any Easier

By Gill Deford, Jane Perkins & Gary F. Smith

The U.S. Supreme Court in its 2010 Term continued to throw boulders on the path to federal court, the Wal-Mart case limiting class actions being a well-known example. The justices limit access in other ways, in some cases going through contortions to arrive at an interpretation: deference cases (continued to defer to agency action) and preemption cases (preempted California law on arbitration clauses). The Court denied standing to taxpayers in an establishment clause case, with Justice Kagan dissenting from the majority’s result-oriented reasoning. However, in two employment law cases, the Court overturned lower-court rulings dismissing suits for failure to state a claim, and failure-to-state-a-claim cases did not intepret Twombly and Iqbal strictly.

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How the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Shapes the Future of Home- and Community-Based Services

By Leonardo Cuello

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act may transform home- and community-based services in the Medicaid program. The Act shifts Medicaid long-term care away from institutionalization and toward home- and community-based services, gives states options for offering these services through their Medicaid state plans instead of through waiver programs, and promotes uniformity in consumer-focused standards for home- and community-based services.

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Creating the Legal Services Organizations Our Clients Deserve

Salaries and Beyond

By Colleen M. Cotter, Kelly Carmody, Catherine Carr, Steve Grumm & John Tobin

Civil legal services organizations and their clients will both be better off if legal services attorneys are better paid. Salary studies from several states show that salary improvements are necessary to prevent civil legal services attorneys from fleeing the public interest in favor of more lucrative work, and legal services leaders must pay attention to such data--even if they end up having smaller organizations.

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How the Fair Labor Standards Act Fails Home Health Aides and Consumers

By Bruce Vignery, Stacy Canan & Erin Morgan

Home health aides perform some of America’s most difficult work, and they do so without federal protections. Because home health aides are exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act, they are not guaranteed federal minimum-wage or overtime protections even though America’s demand for qualified home health aides is exploding as our population ages. The exemption of home health aides from Fair Labor Standards Act coverage has severe consequences not only for workers but also for consumers, and advocates across the country are working to improve home health aides’ wages in courtrooms and legislatures.

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