Extreme cold causes widespread court closures in Midwest; one governor says US is 'getting soft'

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Closed sign.

Many courthouses throughout the the Midwest announced closings Wednesday as an arctic blast settled on the region.

Both local and federal courthouses reported closings. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Chicago announced a Wednesday and Thursday closing, along with courthouses in the Northern District of Illinois.

Also closed were federal courts in the Central District of Illinois, the Eastern District of Wisconsin, the Kalamazoo courthouse in the Western District of Michigan, all but one court in the Eastern District of Michigan, several courts in the Northern District of Indiana, and the Pittsburgh and Erie divisions of the Western District of Pennsylvania.

Many state courts in Chicago and suburban counties were closed, the Chicago Tribune reported, although there were exceptions for bond hearings and juvenile detention hearings in Cook County. Some downstate Illinois towns reported closures (including here and here).

Several state courts also announced closings in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Ohio.

At least one public official thinks some government bodies are overreacting to the weather. Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin criticized school districts in his state for closing amid wind chills of minus 15, the Washington Post reports. “We’re getting soft,” Bevin said in a radio interview.

But Bevin added that it’s better to err on the side of being safe. “But it does concern me a little bit that in America—on this and any number of other fronts—we’re sending messages to our young people that if life is hard, you can curl up in the fetal position somewhere in a warm place and just wait until it stops being hard,” he said.

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