The broad disruption of the federal courts caused by the shutdown

Today, the Administrative Office of the U.S Courts issued a press release describing in vivid detail the impact of the shutdown on the federal courts. It is worth reading (here). If nothing else, the nuts in Congress are now on notice that when they shutdown the judiciary, they do immense harm to real people.


3 responses

  1. The press release confirms what most of us knew already. You are right that the nuts in Congress are now on notice that when they shutdown the judiciary (and other parts of the government) they do immense harm to real people. Only I have little confidence that those nuts care much about whether they do immense harm to real people if it somehow advances their people, their cause, or their careers.

  2. This was as predictable as the sunrise. And one of our Founding Fathers in particular predicted it. In his Farewell Address, Washington warned us of the dangers of faction:

    “I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.

    This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

    The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.

    Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.”

    While presiding over the Philadelphia Convention, General Washington made one and only one motion: to limit the size of congressional districts to 30,000 residents. This, in turn, appears to be the brainchild of Solon of Athens, who made its legislature so large that no one could reasonably hope to bribe ’em all.

    If we were to adopt his advice even today, coupled with repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment, we could take the money out of politics. Sure, we would have 10,000 Congresscritters, but they could telecommute and debate via Skype. Imagine their being able to walk their districts, and knowing your name. Imagine their having to answer to you for the shutdown down at the local diner, and the injuries you have suffered personally as a result. Gerrymandering would serve no useful purpose, as a true citizen-representative could be elected on the strength of ideas alone, and a national party would be less relevant when an entire campaign could cost $1,000. And as individual Congresscritters would have almost no power outside of the strength of their ideas, it wouldn’t make sense to bribe them, anyway.

    Under the Framers’ conception of government, whereas the legislature was to be the voice of the people, the Senate was the voice of the States. One is left to wonder why we even need such a body, if the source of its power is the people. Nebraska has a unicameral legislature, and seems to do just fine, thank you very much. If we repealed the 17Am, state legislatures could go back to appointing representatives, and the cost of running would in theory be zero.

    Contrast that to the dysfunctional system we see today. Politicians become addicted to the power that they hold, and will do pretty much anything they can to keep it. They live in constant fear of losing their jobs, and need a steady source of income to retain them. And that money does not come without strings attached. They don’t have to answer to you, because all you have to barter with is your vote–which gerrymandering has made all but irrelevant.

    Why should anyone be surprised that they don’t care if the shutdown hurts you personally?

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