by Anugrah Kumar
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—With the government shutdown now coming close to affecting the judiciary, which has already lost staff and part of its budget due to the sequester, a senior federal judge has expressed his frustration telling Congress to “go to hell” on his blog.
“It is time to tell Congress to go to hell. It’s the right thing to do,” writes senior U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf on his blog.
An appointee of President George H.W. Bush in 1992, Kopf let his disappointment out at a time when all district and circuit chief judges will soon have to decide which employees are essential and which will be furloughed as non-essential.
“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?” the judge asks.
If the chief judge and all the district judges were to issue such an order, most staff would be protected from prosecution under the Anti-Deficiency Act, Kopf adds. “Such an order would set up an inter-branch dispute worth having… Congress would have two choices. It could do nothing in which event Congress loses its ability to destroy the judiciary by failing to pass a budget. Or, Congress could go batsh*t, and the judiciary and Congress could have it out.”
The courts have not been affected much thus far thanks to fee income and prior-year appropriations. But this is expected to change within a week. Even otherwise, the courts have had to cut hundreds of support staff positions over the last two years.
The judiciary also saw a 5 percent reduction in its budget in the last fiscal year.The partial government shutdown was in its 13th day Sunday, but little progress was visible in Congress in striking a budget deal. Even more worrisome is the fact that the negotiations are also tied to avoiding a default if the government’s borrowing limit is not raised by Thursday.
Judges are highly frustrated, says the chief judge of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. “Court budgets have essentially been slashed to the bone, with us losing nationwide thousands of judicial employees performing very important tasks…We’re being told to furlough where we’re already cut to the bone,” Judge Richard Roberts, a Clinton appointee, tells Politico.
“We don’t exert the kind of control to keep up resources to match the need,” adds Roberts. “We don’t have ultimately any authority to set appropriations Congress decides on. We do not necessarily get to decide what the White House sends to [the Office of Management and Budget] and to Congress. We can’t go out and stir up constituents to do talking for us. Structurally, there’s a bit of an imbalance.”
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—Republicans in the US lower house have proposed a
short-term increase to the debt ceiling. President Barack Obama has indicated
willingness to sign a temporary measure into law, signaling a potential compromise.
House Speaker John Boehner (pictured above) said on Thursday that Republicans
would propose a temporary increase in the US debt limit, but only if President Obama
agreed to negotiate over the ongoing government shutdown.
“Listen, it’s time for leadership,” Boehner told reporters after meeting his party
colleagues from the House of Representatives.
“What we have discussed as a conference is a temporary extension of the debt
ceiling – in exchange for a real commitment by this president and the Senate majority
leader to sit down and talk about the pressing problems that are facing all the
“That includes a broad array of issues,” the house speaker said.
Meanwhile, the White House called Boehner’s proposal an “encouraging sign.”
The current US debt ceiling of $16.7 trillion is fixed until October 17. If Congress fails
to raise the ceiling before then, the US will be unable to borrow additional money to
pay down past debts. That would put the federal government in a state of default for
the first time in its history.
While raising the debt ceiling was standard procedure in the past, House Republicans
- influenced by its conservative Tea Party caucus – have threatened not to raise the
ceiling in order to gain negotiating leverage with the president.
Source: Deutsche Welle
by Anugrah Kumar
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear and decide several contentious cases, including matters related to public prayers at government meetings and states’ right to restrict access to abortion, as it begins a new session on Monday after a summer break.
One of the cases, Town of Greece v. Galloway, deals with the question whether the public prayer held before a town meeting violates the First Amendment guarantee of separation of church and state. The verdict in the case – oral arguments of which are scheduled for Nov. 6, according to Reuters – could greatly change the future of public religious expression in the nation.
“I don’t think you should have to endure religious indoctrination in order to participate in your own town government,” Linda Stephens, one of the challengers in the case concerning prayers held at Greece, N.Y., government meetings, tells NBC. Town Supervisor John Auberger disagrees. “We have a rich tradition, back to our founding fathers, of opening legislative meetings with a prayer,” he is quoted as saying.
The Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York previously ruled that the prayer was unconstitutional because although the town did technically allow anyone, of any denomination, to volunteer to give a prayer, it “neither publicly solicited volunteers to invocation nor informed members of the general public that volunteers would be considered or accepted.”
However, Joel Oster, senior legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, who represented Greece in the court at the time, told The Christian Post earlier that the decision contradicted past Supreme Court rulings on the matter. “The U.S. Supreme Court already upheld the practice of prayers before deliberative bodies,” he said. “This opinion by the Second Circuit effectively undermines the Supreme Court’s opinion and places several roadblocks and obstacles for a town to permit legislative prayers.”
The Supreme Court ruled in 1983 that the Nebraska state legislature was within its constitutional right in opening its sessions with a prayer from a Christian minister paid to act as the official chaplain. However, the court has also held that governments cannot appear to endorse a particular religious view.
The court is also expected to take up two cases concerning abortion. One of them is McCullen v. Coakley, in which the court will deal with the question whether a Massachusetts law that ensures access for patients at clinics that offer abortions violates the free speech rights of protesters.
The other case, Cline v. Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice on whether states may limit the use of abortion-inducing drugs, has been referred to the Oklahoma Supreme Court for a clarification, according to The New York Times.
The court is also likely to hold hearings in cases concerning President Obama’s health care law, or “Obamacare,” which forces employers to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives, sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs, irrespective of their religious beliefs.
The court hearings and decisions in this new term are expected to hit headlines in the coming months. As Kannon Shanmugam, a lawyer with Williams & Connolly, tells NBC, “This is the year of the sequel.”
Newscast Media, WASHINGTON, D.C.–Having failed to agree on a federal budget, the US government has been forced to shut down, with the catalyst being resistance of several lawmakers to Obamacare. The closure will affect over 1.8 million federal
workers who work in all 50 states.
The White House Office of Management and Budget issued a letter advising federal employees of the necessary steps they should take one minute before midnight on September 30.
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