FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SHUTS DOWN; FEDERAL COURTS DON’T

 

[Posted October 1, 2013] I have a long-honored rule around here, and that’s that we don’t do politics here at VANA. I’m neither a Democrat nor a Republican, and neither is my website. So brace yourself for an overtly political statement: The ne’er-do-wells on Capitol Hill have foolishly refused to do one of the primary jobs for which we hired them. A pox on both their houses.

 

Okay, as political statements go, that’s fairly nonpartisan. But the practical effect of the budgetary impasse in Congress is that certain governmental functions will be put on hold. National parks will be closed, and around here in Tidewater, as elsewhere, civilian employees of the armed forces (though not the armed forces themselves) will be furloughed. There’s no end date to this nonsense other than the obstinacy of the politicians and the indifference of the voters who put them there.

 

What about the judiciary? Well, the federal courts will limp along for a few more days, waiting to see whether Congress will get its act together. Here’s a notice from the US Courts website that applies to federal courts generally, including the Fourth Circuit. The Supreme Court of the United States has posted this paragraph on its home page:

 

In the event of a lapse of appropriations, the Court will continue to conduct its normal operations through October 4. The Court building will be open to the public during its usual hours. Further notice will be provided in the event a lapse of appropriations continues beyond October 4.

 

There’s an ominous, unstated “Page 2” to that story: The following business day after October 4 is, unfortunately, The First Monday in October, the traditional opening date for the new Term. The first case calendared for argument that day is an ADEA claim; Tuesday brings one of the Court’s higher-profile cases, involving limits on campaign contributions (McCutcheon v. FEC). Note that the justices haven’t said that they’ll cancel oral arguments if the budget still isn’t in place by October 4; they only said they’d revisit the matter and make a decision at that point.

 

In any event, the important news for my readers is that your appellate deadlines are still ticking. You won’t get a reprieve from filing your briefs on time merely because the government is out of money. As long as the Clerk’s Offices are open – and they are, at least for now – you should regard this as a business-as-usual situation.

Let’s just hope that budgetary impasses and “government by crisis” doesn’t become business as usual.