Federal Courts Running Out of Money -- Now

By William Vogeler, Esq. on January 14, 2019 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Federal courts are going dark as the government shutdown becomes the longest in history.

Court administrators, trying to keep the courts going, are running on empty. Without paychecks, they are tapping reserves and deciding which workers are essential for basic justice.

All 94 federal district courts are figuring how to stay open until the political stalemate lets up. Some will run out of money this week.

No Money in Maine

In the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine, funding for public defenders expired on Christmas Eve. Cost-cutting has included suspending hirings, promotions, training, and travel.

Now some court workers will be furloughed. Chief Judge John Levy said the court will "continue to process," however, criminal, civil and bankruptcy cases even without funds.

"The employees of the District of Maine have worked hard to keep our courts operating during this period of uncertainty," he said.

It's a battle cry heard around the country, especially in immigration courts. They are pushing back hearings -- as long as four years -- because of the war over the border wall.

A Little Love in DC

An estimated 800,000 government employees are not getting paid during the shutdown. The District of Columbia has been hit hard.

National monuments, including The Smithsonian and the National Zoo, have closed. Food stamps and public housing are next.

The local government, however, has taken some matters into its own hands. The DC council authorized the mayor to issue marriage licenses since the court clerk stopped issuing them.

The Let our Vows Endure (LOVE) Act passed unanimously.

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