There’s a blind spot in the U.S. civil justice system that ruins lives every day, profoundly and routinely. In courts across the country, poverty-stricken litigants in noncriminal cases routinely face earth-shaking outcomes, in many states, including jail time without ever seeing a lawyer or receiving basic legal advice.

The United States neglects to provide a civil respondent any legal aid whatsoever, including eviction and foreclosure disputes and domestic violence cases under the Constitution. Similarly, most egregiously, aid isn’t provided in cases over guardianship or forfeiture of parental rights.