‘This sequester thing is going great’ — said no one outside of Washington.

Yesterday, we talked about how an austerity budget in Detroit has led to a broken justice system in Detroit. In fairness, nobody much cares about that story because, well, it’s Detroit and f**k ‘em.

But I wonder if people will care when Detroit’s style of “we can’t afford this” justice comes to a courthouse near you.

While it looks like lawmakers will come to a compromise that will avoid a government shut down (for another couple of months), it looks like that deal will keep the sequester in place.

The sequester, of course, was designed to be a TERRIBLE IDEA that has a serious deleterious impact on our country. But I guess since the sequester didn’t stop anybody from watching fat people diving into swimming pools, Congress isn’t really motivated to do anything about it.

And our system of justice gets crappier still….

To be clear, the sequester is maybe the worst Washington idea since John F. Kennedy said, “There’s a plan to oust Castro? I love it! I’m excited to be a part of it. Onward to Pigs’ Bay!”

The Democrats grossly overestimated the Republican willingness to govern in good faith. I think the GOP has established that there’s no harm they’re unwilling to risk so long as they don’t get Tea Partied in the primaries. The Republicans grossly underestimated the import of winning a presidential election. Why they think Obama, who won, would act more like Romney, who lost, is beyond me. And it might well be that Obama has the interpersonal persuasion skills of a cat. “Love me, don’t love me, the choice is entirely up to you, I’ll be up here in the rafters, killing it.”

And so the country finds itself with an austerity budget that is unevenly applied and actually designed to cause as much behind the scenes pain as possible. That’s why things like White House tours have been cut. They’re not expensive and most Americans don’t give a crap, but Congresspeople like to hand those things out to lobbyists and influential constituents, and taking them away is like telling a freshman Congressperson he can’t watch TV for an hour.

The attack on the courts is more serious, as the National Law Journal explains:

Judge Julia Gibbons of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, the chair of the judicial conference’s budget committee, testified on Capitol Hill that she is “more concerned than ever” about how well the justice system can function after the $350 million cuts to the courts, part of broader mandatory cuts called sequestration.

As she’s noted before, Gibbons said the emergency measures to deal with the cuts are “unsustainable, difficult and painful to implement,” but this time she delivered the remarks directly to Congress as part of the 2014 budget process.

“I am not a fan of hyperbole and I avoid it,” Gibbons said. “It is no hyperbole when I say we have deep concern about our ability to fulfill our constitutional mission.”…

Gibbons testified that the courts do not have programs it can cut or work it can ignore, because all of the work is assigned by the Constitution and laws.

That seems like a really important point. Courts aren’t some kind of bloated federal pork project. They’re institutions charged with constitutional responsibilities. If they have work to do, it’s because our system of rights and responsibilities requires that work to be done, not because the Democrats aren’t serious about spending cuts.

Of course, one of the hardest hit programs will be the federal public defenders. Because that whole “right to an attorney” BS is just a liberal code phrase for uncontrolled spending.

The bottom line is that the sequester is bad. FOR ALL OF US. If it meant that the NCAA couldn’t run its basketball tournament, people would care. If it meant that the next season of Game of Thrones would be delayed, people would care. If it meant that people couldn’t get a blizzard at Dairy Queen, people would care.

And when murders and rapists start going free because of ineffective assistance of counsel, people will care.

Judicial conference official warns of budget cuts’ ‘painful’ effects on courts [National Law Journal]

Earlier: No Money, No Lawyers, No Problem


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