Courthouses, Politics

Courts Poised to Tumble Off Fiscal Cliff

I don’t know who to believe about the so-called fiscal cliff. I think Steve Kornacki is right and it’s more like a fiscal slope. But if the markets keep acting like petulant children who are easily frightened, then it will really have a deleterious impact on our economy. Then again, Wall Street being happy doesn’t necessarily translate into Main Street being happy, so who knows? The only thing I’m sure of is that conducting politics by holding the nation hostage is freaking stupid. I hope they fix the fiscal thingy and the debt ceiling in the same deal, so America can get back to problems that we haven’t created for ourselves on purpose.

In any event, if we do going tumbling off the cliff or down the slope or around the bend, there will be pain for those who don’t deserve it. While Article I fights it out with Article II, Article III prepares to lay people off, while the fourth estate just wants to see more people fighting.

People who work for federal courts, prepared to be caught in the crossfire….

A report on Fox News (gavel bang: ABA Journal) says that federal courts are planning layoffs and furloughs if the country goes over the cliff:

The cuts would force federal courts to lay off up to 2,000 employees or furlough 20,000 employees for 16 days, according to a Dec. 4 letter to federal chief judges around the country from the Judicial Conference of the United States.

David Sentelle, chairman of the executive committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States, said even after cutting spending on information technology and other areas, “some local staff reductions” will be needed.

“On a national basis up to 2,000 court staff positions (10 percent of the courts’ workforce) could still be lost, or alternatively, the equivalent of 16 furlough days for court staff could be required,” he wrote, adding that the cuts would carry “significant adverse impacts on judiciary operations and services.”

Justice may be blind, but she ain’t cheap.

All the layoffs and furloughs sound bad, but the government has been shut down and held hostage before. This is kind of how our system works now. We have a divided government. We have a divided country. And while individual people are willing to compromise, there isn’t a lot of incentive for individual politicians to do the same.

Unless they are staring into an abyss that is too terrible to contemplate. Which is kind of why we created the “fiscal cliff” for ourselves in the first place? Will it work? I don’t know, but I think it’s going to take a lot more than some layoffs and furloughs of government workers to make both sides act reasonably.

Fiscal Cliff Could Force Federal Courts to Lay Off 2,000 Employees [ABA Journal]
Court system braces for layoffs as clock on fiscal crisis ticks [Fox News]

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