87 Chief Judges Plead for Sequestration Relief
The chief judges of 87 federal courts warned congressional leaders this week that another year of sequestration on top of flat funding “will have a devastating, and long lasting, impact on the administration of justice in this country.”
In a letter to Vice President Joe Biden, as president of the Senate, the judges cautioned that deep cuts are unsustainable and pose a threat to public safety, and asked senators to carve out an exception for the judiciary should they extend sequestration another year.
“As the boots on the ground in our nation’s federal trial courts, we have experienced firsthand the effect of those constraints and funding reductions,” the letter states. “They have forced us to slash our operations to the bone, and we believe that our constitutional duties, public safety, and the quality of the justice system will be profoundly compromised by any further cuts.”
The federal court system is absorbing its share of $85 billion in sequestration cuts under the Budget Control Act. Passed after the 2011 debt ceiling showdown, the sequester was sold as a stopgap measure after President Barack Obama and Republican lawmakers failed to reach a deficit-reduction agreement.
The judiciary needs to make up some of the $350 million in budget cuts to the federal court system. Appropriations committees in the House of Representatives and the Senate have respectively approved $465 million and $363 million funding increases for the fiscal year 2014.
More: Courthouse News Service