Federal Judge Speaks Truth to Power , Part 2

We recently highlighted former Federal Judge and current Dean of the North Texas College of Law Royal Furgeson, who testified before Congress about how the effects of the sequestration and budget cuts are crippling the ability of the federal courts to do their jobs; namely, to resolve disputes and prosecute criminals in a speedy and efficient manner. 

Well, Senior Judge Richard Kopf of Omaha, Neb., delivered much the same message on his blog, though with perhaps a bit less diplomacy than Judge Furgeson.

“It’s time to tell Congress to go to hell,” wrote Judge Kopf, “it’s the right thing to do.” 

He proposed declaring every judicial employee essential, explaining: “Such an order would set up an inter-branch dispute worth having….[Congress] could do nothing, in which event Congress loses its ability to destroy the judiciary [by] failing to pass a budget. Or, Congress could go batshit and the judiciary and Congress could have it out.” 

Sequestration cut about 5% from the federal courts’ budget, even though both the population and dockets are growing, and even though federal courts are a relatively small part of the overall budget. It’s also worth noting those same courts already are “running on fumes” during the current government shutdown, and soon will run out of money to do anything at all.   

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: You can’t run a democracy by failing to adequately fund one of the three co-equal branches of government, the one that enforces and protects the rights of every one of us. 

Our nation’s lawmakers apparently can’t figure out a way to do their jobs, so the best they can do is to prevent our nation’s judges from doing theirs. 

Posted: 10/15/2013 12:00:00 AM by Editor | with 0 comments

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Thanks for stopping by On the Merits, the first blog from the Texas Center for Legal Ethics. On the Merits will take a close look at significant legal stories with an eye toward addressing the legal myths and misconceptions that turn up in news stories, movies, TV programs, websites, anonymous emails and other forms of mass communications. Our goal at On the Merits is to provide readers with a thoughtful examination of what the media and others are saying about the legal profession and to apply the frequently-absent context of how the legal system actually works.

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