Tell Congress to go to hell–all federal district court employees are essential

As the federal courts approach the point where all non-appropriated funds are expended, which remaining employees are essential becomes a heart-breaking question.  STOP!

Reject the premise of the question. Given the loss of employees already suffered by the judiciary on account of the sequester and otherwise, why shouldn’t every remaining employee of every federal district court (including FPD employees) be declared “essential?”

If the Chief Judge, and all the district judges, issued an order so stating, the Clerk of Court, the Federal Public Defender and all the other Unit Executives, would be protected from prosecution under the Anit-Deficiency Act. Furthermore, there is a strong argument for such a declaration. Best of all, such an order would set up an inter-branch dispute worth having.

Given such an order, Congress would have two choices. It could do nothing in which event Congress loses its ability to destroy the judiciary be failing to pass a budget. Or, Congress could go batshit, and the judiciary and Congress could have it out.

As I said, there is strong support for such a declaration. One Senator prominent in judiciary matters has even made an admission that such a decision should go unchallenged because it is entirely justified:

Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Bankruptcy and the Courts, said the shutdown has made it challenging to learn more about how exactly the shutdown will harm the courts. In an interview with The National Law Journal on Friday, Coon said furloughs in his office have hampered communication with the judiciary officials.

Coons, who held an oversight hearing on court funding earlier this year, said the federal courts have been under significant stress through budget reductions already. He said he wouldn’t challenge district court officials who, this week, decide that every remaining employee is essential. Two courts have already made that determination.

Todd Ruger and Zoe Tillman, Lawmakers Sound Alarm Over Shutdown’s Blow to Judiciary, The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times, October 5, 2013. (Emphasis added.)

It is time to tell Congress to go to hell. It’s the right thing to do.

RGK

96 responses

  1. You refuse to vote. so why comment on a system that you ignore?

    I haven’t voted for a winner in the House since I began voting in Lincoln over 30 years ago. I did not help elect a congressman who has shut down the government in order to overturn a law, ObamaCares which was passed, held Constitutional and was the centerpiece of last years election in which the President was reelected in a landslide. So I can comment:

    We are where we are today because those members on the House who don’t want all Americans to have access to affordable health care got more votes than their opponents. And some of them (Lee Terry) benefited because those state legislators who drew up the their favorable districts after 2010 elections got more votes than their opponents. Elections matter.

    Only one way to tell Congress to go to hell, vote for the challenger in in November 2014 .

    • Dear Vince,

      Got me!

      Given your laudable commitment to politics as Chair of the Nebraska Democratic Party, I understand your irritation with my decision not to vote when I became a judge. However,refusing to vote does not mean I ignore “the system.” More particularly, it also doesn’t mean that I forfeit my concern for the federal judiciary and the fine people who work for the Third Branch.

      As for your second comment,the law clerks are “essential.” But,I appreciate your offer!

      All the best.

      RGK

    • Hi Vince,

      So you’re the Chair of the Nebraska Democratic Party and you play the blame game. I don’t want to insult your intelligence, but unfortunately, it’s become a necessity. Your a idiot. Just because you’re a democrat doesn’t merit you ignoring your own parties deplorable behavior. I expect more from you. You should expect more from yourself. Don’t get mad at me, take the Wechsler and post your metrics and prove you’re not an idiot.

      Thanks,

      Guy who is about to go to law school and definitely has a higher IQ than you.

      • Look in a mirror, Ace. You’re reflecting your own version of the behavior you claim to decry.

        And do some soul-searching before you spend all that OPM on your law education (or are you actually going to pay your own way?)–are you sure you want a law career and not a…political…one?

        Next review your freshman year logic class notes. Ad hominem attacks have no merit in fact or logic.

        Homework assignment: read my comments scattered throughout this blog. See how a modern Conservative makes a case.

        Finally, learn to proof read.

        Eric Hines

          • Woops forgot to put in alias. Anyway the above post is mine. FYI Law School is free dude… 176 Lsat 3.8 GPA = full ride… evidently you didn’t do so well…

            • Ah. The illogic and ad hominem nonsense are a lot more consistent, then.

              My remarks and homework assignment stand.

              Oh, yeah. LSAT 176: 75th percentile at Harvard and a 3.8 GPA. Full ride–OPM. That all you got?

              Eric Hines

      • Hey Guy,
        Your high IQ must be interfering with your basic skills:
        – You’re [not your]
        – Party’s [not parties].
        – Ad hominem arguments are the trademark of those lacking merit or substance in their position.

        Good luck in law school. Hopefully ambulance chasing will provide enough income to pay off the loans.

    • I would go one step beyond that, Mr. Powers: Vote for the challenger, but make sure you inform the incumbent’s office (e-mail, letter, telephone or all!) that you are doing it because of his/her part in the shameful behavior of the 113th Congress.

      When your Congressman can count on 65%+ of the votes just for running as a Republican in his district, you have to be a bit more aggressive to let him know he is doing a disservice to America by falling into lockstep with anarchists in his party.

      I live at the opposite end of Nebraska, Mr. Powers, in the 3rd District (Adrian Smith). Once elected, these people tend to get re-elected till they die, run for governor, or (preferably) drop dead.

    • vote the whole gov’t and voting system is rigged its been proven already with bush gore election gore won but how conveniently Jed bush was governor of Florida I mean prior to election Jed was on TV saying I guarantee my brother will win the state of Florida how can he make that kind of statement without knowing it is fixed that is one example there are many others

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  6. Speaking as an essential employee, I could do without the honor.

    Don’t get me wrong-it’s nice to be valued. But it’s not nice to be unpaid. Now that Congress has decided to pay furloughed employees retroactively, they’re better off than “essential” employees. We have to work and not get paid until the shutdown ends; they get to stay home.

    Nor am I convinced that we’re sticking it to Congress by staying open. All that does is ensure that federal employees suffer and that the citizens who elected the Shutdown Caucus don’t. That lets the House of the hook, and is why Fox News and Ted Cruz can claim that 85% of the government is still open, so the “slimdown” is no big deal.

    If you want to tell Congress to go to hell, tell them the judiciary is closed to anything that’s not an emergency, until Congress decides it’s willing to pay judicial employees. Any lawyers and litigants who don’t like it should call their Congressman.

    • NeBW,

      You have a point, but I don’t agree. It strikes me that harming lawyers and litigants is a little like shooting innocent hostages–it gets the attention of the media, but it is nasty business.

      All the best.

      RGK

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  9. What concerns me is that the country is being run by a corporation. It is NOT a government at all! Why aren’t you doing something about getting rid of the corporation and re-instate the constitution and get a de jure government back?

    • Dear Paul B.,

      I intend no disrespect by this question, but I must ask: Do you seriously believe that this country is “run by a corporation [or corporations]?”

      All the best.

      RGK

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  15. I’m torn. I loved your blog post, but I think nebw has a point. As someone else who isn’t getting paid during the shutdown, I guess I have to go with nebw… shut the courts down if Congress isn’t willing to pay for it.

    • Marsha,

      You (and NEBW) may be right. I just can’t handle hurting the innocent to strike back at the clowns from hell. That’s my problem and not yours. All the best.

      RGK

  16. RGK:

    You are a twit who has fed too long at the federal trough.

    The Constitution itself says the Supreme Court is the ONLY essential federal court. Congress may create, and it may abolish, other federal courts at its will. Do you feel “essential” now?

    Also, your telling Congress to go to hell is merely your telling the people whose representatives they are to go to hell. You first, “Your Honor.”

  17. I agree with you, Judge. Although recalcitrant legislators in Congress have created a regrettable, arguably unnecessary, mess for the judiciary (among others), it would serve no purpose for the judiciary to shut its doors because that would be a petty response by the Third Branch. “T*t for tat” of such magnitude places personalities before principles. The U.S. Constitution and oath of office for jurists and judicial employees are daily reminders of why we desire to, and must, keep the courts operational, notwithstanding any regrettable circumstances. Although I may sound a bit idealistic, and although I prefer to be (timely) paid for my labor, I do not do what I do for the paycheck alone. Justice is blind, even to Congressional shenanigans and political brouhahas.

  18. Judge Kopf. I was looking at some pictures my cousin the reporter sent me of the dead cattle in my home state of South Dakota – – could be as many as 60,000. I started wondering what one does with 60,000 dead cattle — and since there is no farm bill to help with these devasting losses and no government to help even there was a bill — I think I found a solution. Start shipping them to DC and see if that ends the shut down

    • Jeanelle,

      I know that you know what a “knocker” is. It seems like we have 535 of them in D.C. So, I agree–let them deal with the awful offal. Maybe if they had some stink on their clothes things would change.

      All the best.

      RGK

  19. The federal courts helped create this problem by failing to do their job. If the Supreme Court had overturned the ACA, the shutdown wouldn’t have been necessary. It is only because the normal checks and balances that protect the people from unconstitutional laws failed, that the more extreme measure of shutting down the government until it is repealed had to be used.

    • Not so much. There are a lot of reasons to beef about the Supremes’ ruling on PPACA, but this isn’t one of them.

      The budget argument is about spending; Obamacare is just an unpopular item that was used as a tool in an attempt to cut spending in order to get a budget. Notice, for instance, that the initial House bill defunded Obamacare, it did not repeal it.

      Take out all the froo-froo in the argument, and the matter comes down to this:

      “Cut spending.”

      “No.”

      Eric Hines

  20. All the Republicans and Dems are the co-conspirator. But give the proper dis-credit to the real guilty – Tell the Tea Party to go to hell.

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    • Not that it matters much, but the photo on your site is not me despite the caption you added to the photo. The photo you use is of a judge who recently retired in Montana. That is, U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull. I posted about the judge here.

      All the best.

      RGK

        • Erick,

          I grew one once but tired of it. Since I have a pale face, white hair and the beard was white, I also looked like the “white out” at the Penn State v. Michigan game. I also tired of being laughed at by my kids. All the best.

          RGK

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  45. I have also been frustrated for years by the fact that Congress has not raised the salaries of federal judges, and yet they keep their gym open and they are getting paid during the government shutdown. They also have special health insurance (gold-gold-the best policy) and so many other perks that they vote to give themselves-and then they don’t do their job!!!! I have a student whose husband works as a computer programmer for the government, and she is terrified that her family will have no money at the end of October to pay the rent. Yet, Congress continues to get paid. THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS!!

    • Hi Lorraine,

      I’m also a federal employee (excepted) who is sweating bullets regarding rent at the end of the month…… I also haven’t gotten a pay raise in three years, though the “makers” have seen to it that my cost of living has steadily gone up anyway regarding rent, energy, etc.

      I’m a veteran now working in the sciences, I’ve co-authored many papers over the years including three with Nobel Laureates, yet an “emotionally challenged” pointy hat wearing tea-bagger wants the benefit of my work while toppling my livelihood. Instead of “Atlas Shrugged” it’s going to more the case that “Science Shrugged”.

      Love your blog Judge. You’ve got a new reader.

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  59. Those who go and will go to ‘hell’ is because they chose to violate God’s Commandments and reject His solution to the problem of sin. We will all give an account before the Supreme Perfect Judge of the Universe. At least the shutdown has to do with common sense and improving the US economy in the long run.

  60. Well, you aren’t essential in a Dictatorship. That’s what you judges did when you sat on your ass watching the Constitution gets raped for the last decade.

    Welcome to NAZI Germany. You’ve earned it.

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  62. well judge , instead of whineing about congress, the only ones looking out for the people, you need to go to the source of the problem the ‘LIBERAL LEFT SOCIALISTS that control the other two branches of government and WILL NOT NAGOTIATE. I certainly hope you don’t bring your political bias to the bench…

  63. With all due respect Sir, this sounds a lot like whining. I would think a person of your stature and intellectual prowess would be a bit more magnanimous. You don’t seem to be looking at the situation in it’s entirety. Frankly, it’s a bit frightening, considering your a Judge and all.

    As a lowly citizen even I understand there are three branches of Government involved in this fiasco. Perhaps you should throw this tantrum over at the Senate or the White House for that matter.

    Personally, Democrat policy has made running my business and supporting my family frustrating as well.

    I don’t remember much empathy coming from Democrats when small business owners all over the country expressed their displeasure with having The Affordable Care Act shoved down their throats.

    Hence, the expansion of the Tea Party.

    Nor do I see any of them crying about having their Medicare age Parents hard earned benefits raped by this law or worrying that their children and grandchildren will be left with substandard care by a Government who’s only interest is continued gluttony and power. We have only to look overseas to see where this will go.

    Funny, I didn’t notice ANY empathy whatsoever for ANYone in your comments but yourselves.

    Actually, I find that attitude to be a significant part of the many problems we Americans are now facing.

    That’s why I voted for a conservative Congress to block those very policies and I can only hope they will continue to do so. Apparently the only leverage left is the budget. Sorry it’s causing you some headaches but I’m sure you’ll all be fine. The benefits you receive as Federal employees far exceed those that most of us in the private sector enjoy. WE actually have to put something back for a rainy day.

    Take heart though, I’m sure the Rhinos will cave very soon and you’ll be back in business.Perhaps you should be careful what you wish for though.The destruction of the Constitution and the implementation of Social Economic Planning in it’s fullest extreme may not be all you’ve hoped for.

    I’m told by my European Grandparents who survived Hitler’s social planning… that it’s not all that great.

    All the best,
    TJV

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