Federal judiciary says money won’t run out just yet
Updated: The federal judiciary will be able to keep paying its employees until about Jan. 25, thanks to efforts to defer and delay expenses for noncritical functions.
Courts and federal public defender offices are delaying new hires, cutting travel unrelated to cases and deferring some contracts, a court spokesperson told the National Law Journal and the Hill. A press release is here.
The continued cost cutting is making it possible for the courts to keep paying employees for another week, using money from court fees and other funding sources.
It’s the second time the federal courts have pushed back the date they expect to run out of money. At first, the courts said they had enough money from funding sources to continue operating until Jan. 11. The next week, the courts said they expected to continue paid operations through Jan. 18.
After the money runs out, nonessential court workers will likely be sent home, while others will work without pay to handle criminal cases and other matters that are deemed essential.
On Wednesday, ABA President Bob Carlson said the ABA is “deeply concerned” about the shutdown and called for the White House and Congress “to reach a solution that, at the very least, funds agencies not directly implicated in the controversy over a border wall.”
“Keeping our courts open and running is not a political issue,” Carlson said in his statement. “Rather, it is essential to the protection of due process and the rule of law.”
Carlson pointed out that while federal courts may be able to operate for another week, the same cannot be said for immigration courts.
“Immigration courts, which have no current funding and are already dealing with an 800,000-case backlog, have canceled more than 42,000 hearings, forcing people who have waited years for justice to wait even longer,” Carlson said. “The federal judiciary is essential to preserving constitutional democracy, and the ABA has long advocated for its full and adequate funding.”
The record government shutdown began on Dec. 22 because of a stalemate over border wall funding.
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Updated at 10:52 a.m. to add ABA President Bob Carlson’s statement.