American Bar Association / ABA, Courthouses, Politics

Courthouse Shutdown Blues

Any time you can shut down the entire government because you still really don’t like a law that helps uninsured Americans that was passed five years ago, you’ve got to do it. Well, at least if you want to be a regional party that can only be competitive in elections by gerrymandering and suppressing voter turnout.

The Republicans have shut down the government, the President doesn’t give a s**t and can’t be held hostage because he doesn’t have to run for anything anymore, and the federal courts will take a beating. The courts have already been operating on a shoestring thanks to the sequester (that other total failure of government), and now this.

The courts can stay open for ten days, and then things get ugly. Even the ABA is not impressed…

ABA president James Silkenat said some mean things about Congress:

“This government shutdown is a historic failure that imperils justice in our country,” he said. “Congress has practically abdicated its constitutional responsibility to provide a budget for the government. It is time to end the scorched earth tactics and send a budget to the president.”

Well, I don’t know that the president of the ABA is the one who should be talking about abdication of responsibilities, but I take his point.

The federal courts can run on reserve funds for 10 days. After that, it’s anyone’s guess.

For lawyers employed by the federal government, after 10 days, it comes down to whether or not you are determined to be an “essential employee.” A friend of mine who is in this situation summed up the options pretty succinctly: “If you are ‘essential,’ you have to come to work for no pay, but you might get paid sometime later. If you are non-essential you can show up for work, but you will definitely not be paid.”

UPDATE: Actually I got that wrong, non-essentials are not allowed to go to work. So, there’s that.

Dear 1Ls, you don’t know it now, but this is going to be one of the reasons you won’t end up working for the government and will instead take the biggest private practice paycheck you can find.

It’s not just the federal courts that could be screwed by this shutdown. A tipster has some bad news for people who took the July bar exam in Washington, D.C.:

I am a member of the DC bar and needed to talk to the admissions office to get a letter of good standing. The recorded message says the office is closed due to shutdown (too bad for my letter of good standing) and all the pdf links were not working on the website. I just feel bad for the folks who took the July test. DC takes forever to begin with, can’t imagine how bad it’ll be now.

Are the bar graders shut down too? D.C. needs new government lawyers as much as anybody.

Congressional Republicans, of course, don’t want our best and brightest to go into government work. They don’t want the government to work. And on that scale, they’re winning. They’ve certainly proven that being obstinate prevents effective government action. Congratulations on all your success.

ABA President Silkenat condemns shutdown, says Congress should ‘end the scorched earth tactics’ [ABA Journal]

(hidden for your protection)

comments sponsored by

Show all comments