Sequester Update: 87 U.S. Chief Judges Write Congress

Via Hercules and the Umpire, the blog of Nebraska Senior District Court Judge Richard Kopf, 87 of the nation's 94 Chief U.S. District Court Judges have written a joint letter to Congress warning of the impending disaster to befall our Judiciary as the result of flat funding followed by sequester cuts.

Judge Kopf reprints the letter (you can read the original here), and adds this comment:

As a former Chief District Judge, I know that you can almost never get 87 Chief District Judges to agree about when the sun comes up. The fact that 87 of them wrote the foregoing letter to Congress ought to make clear that the federal district courts are inches away from disaster. Congress is on the brink of intentionally wrecking the federal trial courts. Will sanity prevail?

Thank you Judge Kopf.

< Thursday Open Thread | Friday Open Thread >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Sad to day (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by ragebot on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 09:27:34 AM EST
    I don't see much coming of this.  Just saw a blurb on the internet that the amount of the national debt has not changed in the last 87 days despite the fed buying $US85 billion in paper every month.  Not to mention normal expenditures.

    Also saw a blurb about how the sequester has been overblown in how it hurt most of the federal departments.  DOD, DOA, DOT, DOE, and the rest simply shift funds around or use other accounting tricks to basically ignore the sequester.  Of course there are no more White House tours, which cost very little in the big picture.  Certainly they cost less than what the prez has spent flying to Martha's Vineyard for a vacation, not to mention flying his dog on a separate flight.

    In a previous thread on this topic I posted that if a private company kept books the way the federal govt does peeps would go to jail.  Until the federal court system gets up to speed on accounting tricks I am afraid they are in for a long hard time.

    Yeh, the cost of a one-week vacation (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by christinep on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 05:40:28 PM EST
    for a President in August.  Maybe it would be better from your perspective, ragebot, if he went all out and spent the old-fashioned month on vacation like George W did. (Now, what was that ... I recall reading recently how Bush took about 570+ days in his two terms compared to Obama's 70 in 4+ years.)  Cute remark.

    Also: You might have missed the headline news in the past several days concerning the decrease in the debt level now to the lowest in over 5 years.  Maybe your internet source doesn't report such things, tho.


    Winger myths (none / 0) (#24)
    by Yman on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 09:45:27 AM EST
    Certainly they cost less than what the prez has spent flying to Martha's Vineyard for a vacation, not to mention flying his dog on a separate flight.

    You really should be careful where you get your information.


    BTW - Bush versus Obama vacations (none / 0) (#25)
    by Yman on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 09:51:13 AM EST
    At the same point in their presidencies, 367 for Bush versus 92 for Obama.

    Sanity hasn't prevailed (none / 0) (#1)
    by txantimedia on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 07:35:04 PM EST
    in a long, long time in Washington, D.C.  I don't know why these judges would expect anything to be different now.

    a joint letter... (none / 0) (#2)
    by desertswine on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 08:30:12 PM EST
    that oughtta do it.

    It's easy to complain (none / 0) (#3)
    by FuzzyFace on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 09:46:29 PM EST
    But coming up with a solution that can get past Congress and the White House? That's hard. We've got the sequester because they couldn't agree. It was designed to be so painful that Congress would be motivated to agree on something better - apparently it wasn't painful enough.

    You mean something better like when (none / 0) (#22)
    by Thorley Winston on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 04:44:06 PM EST
    The House wanted to give the President discretion how to allocate the "cuts" within federal departments instead of just making them across the board?

    Sweet (none / 0) (#23)
    by Mikado Cat on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 08:22:21 AM EST
    Not a gift I think Obama would want, responsibility for making cuts.

    But was it . . . (none / 0) (#4)
    by nycstray on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 10:09:13 PM EST
    a sternly worded letter?

    sorry, couldn't resist :P

    Nice to see (none / 0) (#5)
    by jbindc on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 08:25:33 AM EST
    that one of the top signers was Chief Judge Gerald Rosen, my Evidence professor in law school. Good to see that he's taking time out of his busy schedule to address the sequestration issue, along with being appointed the mediator in the historic Detroit bankruptcy case.

    Interesting debate (none / 0) (#7)
    by NYShooter on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 11:58:13 AM EST
    Soon after the public spectacle, known as the Clinton Impeachment, I was a guest at the home of a Stanford Univ. professor. He was hosting an informal discussion regarding the impeachment, and the participants were some of the smartest folks I've ever been privileged to meet. Please forgive my name dropping but I would be remiss if I didn't mention that they included students, both under, and post, graduates of schools such as Berkeley, Harvard, M.I.T, Columbia, Stanford, of course, and Syracuse (Guess which one I was from, lol.)

    Now, to the point: The issue they wanted to discuss, and in all seriousness, was whether there could be a case made that the attempt to remove President Clinton constituted Treason. BTW, there was at least one Law professor and several pre, and post, graduate lawyers in attendance.

    I found the discussion fascinating. Of course, the initial response was, "no way!" But, after some moderating by some of the older (or more experienced) participants took place the initial, "no way," gave way to some real possibilities. It seemed to break down into two distinctly different obstacles. Could it be done politically, and/or, could it be done legally.

    Not to drag this out too much, but just to relay what I perceived the answer[s] to be: Politically, the consensus was that the probability of success approached Zero. But, Legally, my take-a-way was that it was possible. The reasoning might be a little clearer by this analogy. In a successful self-defense case the salient condition is "what the defendant realistically Thought at the moment of taking his self-defense action." And, in an impeachment case that same reasoning could be applied. In other words, were the reasons the pro-impeachment people gave for their prosecution actually the truthful reasons, or were they simply pretexts for a totally different "treasonous" agenda?


    1. the offense of acting to overthrow one's
       government or to harm or kill its sovereign.

    2. a violation of allegiance to one's sovereign  
       or to one's state.

    3. the betrayal of a trust or confidence; breach
       of faith; treachery. (Think, The Constitution)


    That must have been (none / 0) (#8)
    by sj on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 12:37:48 PM EST
    an absolutely fascinating evening.

    Not interesting (none / 0) (#9)
    by ragebot on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 12:48:12 PM EST
    Treason is the only crime defined in the US Constitution and nothing that occurred during Clinton's impeachment comes close to falling within that definition.

    Sadly there is no law against criminal stupidity, something I have often thought would be the first law I would pass if I was supreme dictator of the universe.

    Until I am installed as supreme dictator of the universe I am afraid we will all have to suffer through the criminal stupidity of others.


    Well, it is interesting to me to think of (none / 0) (#10)
    by ruffian on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 01:04:30 PM EST
    prosecuting some of those House members for treason because they were only trying to harm the president, and not sincere in their beliefs that a crime was committed. It never occurred to me to try, and as they concluded it would never fly politically, butI wonder if the same case can be made about some of the actions now that are clearly designed to harm the country economically in order to score political points.

    US Constitution defines treason (none / 0) (#11)
    by ragebot on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 01:11:37 PM EST
    Nothing you have described falls under the definition of treason.

    As I posted I would love to see criminal stupidity punished.  But until a law is passed against it we will just have to suffer through it.

    Some economists would argue that reducing spending so the fed govt did not have to borrow 43 cents of every dollar it spends helps the economy while out of control spending is what is really hurting the economy.

    I would not like to see being an Austrian or Keynesian being made a crime.


    Article III, Section 2 (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by NYShooter on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 04:56:33 PM EST
    "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort."

    Based on how the Constitution, and its various clauses, have been interpreted over the last two and a half centuries, how hard would it be to make the case that the Republicans conspired together "...in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort?"

    And, what name, other than "Traitor," would you call a group of politically diseased racists, who would destroy the "good faith and credit" of the United States of America (the essence of our economy) for no other reason than their hatred of the man, and the race, THE PEOPLE chose to be their Leader?


    VERY Interesting to me (none / 0) (#12)
    by sj on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 01:23:01 PM EST
    I really, really like observing good minds do their thing in their area of expertise. It doesn't matter if I can follow every detail or not; it is inevitable that I will learn something no matter what.

    Plus, there is just kind of an electricity in the air.

    As for your foregone conclusion statement: I've had to defend positions I didn't agree with, or didn't believe in. It is still thought provoking and makes you think in a different way.


    I feel the same way (5.00 / 2) (#13)
    by NYShooter on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 04:23:43 PM EST
    Left to my own devices I probably wouldn't make a habit of going to the opera, or ballets, or some art exhibitions. But, on those occasions, when a date, for instance, has coerced me to attend some, I have to admit it, I was spell bound. You know, I was a jock in high school & college, but those times we visited the concerts, or ballets, the athleticism, never mind the beauty, grace, and fluidity exhibited, it just takes your breath away. And, not to be silly, but, watching those ballerinas, I'm helpless against those tears trickling down my face regarding how a little girl (or boy) can move with a beauty that strikes nerves you didn't know you had, or, literally, defies the laws of physics.

    I know I'm blubbering incoherently here, and yet, I think you know exactly what I'm trying to say. You don't have to know a thing about dance, or voice, to just know you're in the grip of greatness when those rare moments occur.

    Anyway, I just wanted to share with you all the profound experience I enjoyed, witnessing, and sharing, ideas and truths with people of truly great accomplishment like those I talked about here.


    Not blubbering at all - thank you (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by ruffian on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 07:52:27 PM EST
    We have to be able to experience the sublime in any form sometimes, else what is there for us?

    I understand completely (none / 0) (#14)
    by sj on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 04:33:14 PM EST
    You don't have to know a thing about dance, or voice, to just know you're in the grip of greatness when those rare moments occur.

    Realistically? (none / 0) (#17)
    by Mikado Cat on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 06:00:04 PM EST
    In a successful self-defense case the salient condition is "what the defendant realistically Thought at the moment of taking his self-defense action."

    Isn't the standard reasonably, not realistically?

    Using force against a clown due to your irrational fear of clowns isn't self defense, no matter how real your fears are, unless a reasonable person would react the same it doesn't count.

    Requiring all prosecution be by those who are fond of the defendant and bear them no ill will seems a bit far fetched. If the charge was baseless the defendant can seek relief via malicious prosecution.

    Was it treason when Nixon was impeached?


    Nixon wasn't impeached. (none / 0) (#20)
    by unitron on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 09:12:13 PM EST
    Although he certainly should have been.

    AFAIK, Clinton and Andrew Johnson are the only Presidents (so far) to have been impeached by the House of Representatives.

    None have actually been convicted by the Senate.

    Although Nixon certainly should have been.

    It's kind of a shame Clinton wasn't convicted in the Senate (and more of a shame he didn't have the grace to resign).

    By the time he would have left office, enough of his second term would have expired that the remainder wouldn't count towards the 2 term maximum, and Gore could have gone into the 2000 election with the advantage of incumbency and been eligible again in 2004.


    Right (none / 0) (#21)
    by Mikado Cat on Sat Aug 17, 2013 at 04:01:32 AM EST
    sorry not to distinguish articles from conviction, but the for the purposes of the treason discussion isn't the attempt to impeach sufficient regardless of it succeeding?

    First Google to refresh my mind was this one.

    By Richard Lyons and William Chapman
    Washington Post Staff Writers
    Sunday, July 28, 1974; Page A01

    The House Judiciary Committee took the momentous step last night of recommending that the president of the United States be impeached and removed from office.

    The first such impeachment recommendation in more than a century, it charges President Nixon with unlawful activities that formed a "course of conduct or plan" to obstruct the investigation of the Watergate break-in and to cover up other unlawful activities.

    The vote was 27 to 11, with 6 of the committee's 17 Republicans joining all 21 Democrats in voting to send the article to the House.


    Is it (none / 0) (#18)
    by Mikado Cat on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 06:06:25 PM EST
    the sequester that is the main thing hitting the federal courts, or is it that they was kind in a mess to start with with backloads of cases etc.?

    How much did there budget change?

    Found this, but could be stale info.

    The budget for the federal judiciary is about $7 billion a year, a figure that has remained relatively constant for the last three years, even as the caseload of the federal courts has increased. Under the sequester, the federal judiciary's budget would be cut by $555 million, or roughly 8 percent, in fiscal 2013. A cut of that magnitude would bring court spending down to what it was in fiscal 2009, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

    Shut down the federal courts. (none / 0) (#26)
    by Chuck0 on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 02:33:57 PM EST
    Release the prisoners!