By J. Coyden Palmer
The United States Federal Courts will be able to operate for an additional two weeks despite a looming government shutdown that will start in Oct. 1. A bill that would have allowed the federal government to function for an additional 30 days without disruption failed to pass the United States House on Friday. That means lawmakers have less than 48 hours before a government shutdown will go into effect.
The shutdown will not affect criminal cases in federal courts. Civil cases after 14 days would be affected by the shutdown. The civil case against former President Donald J. Trump will continue as planned as a federal’s appeals court on Sept. 29th rejected Trump’s appeal to have the case delayed. Trump is accused of fraudulent business practices by inflating the value of some of his signature properties in New York. The State is suing him for $250 million.
Other high-profile cases on tight deadlines include the disclosure of the academic records of Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, a case that is widely being watched in the West African nation. In that case Judge Nancy Maldonado last week said in court, “I’m aware of the time sensitivities in this case.” The Supreme Court of Nigeria is expected to rule next week if Tinubu violated the country’s election laws by submitting a false document to election officials there. It could mean his removal from office.
“This issue is of process and rules,” Maldonado said. “I’m a rule person; that’s why I’m a judge. This case is quite involved. I am aware of the stakes. It’s more important to me to get this right.”
Two weeks ago, U.S. Circuit Judge Lavenski Smith, who chairs the Judicial Conference, said a government shutdown is “a consistent matter of concern.”
While most court proceedings will continue as scheduled if there is a shutdown during a two-week period, there are some exceptions. Should an attorney from a federal branch like the Environmental Protection Agency or the Justice Department be furloughed, hearing and filing deadlines could be extended. All federal judges would continue to be paid. Court employees like court reporters and bailiffs however could face a furlough. Lawmakers are planning on meeting throughout the weekend to try and prevent a shutdown on Sunday at 12:01 a.m.
Senator Diane Feinstein, who died on Friday at the age of 90, would have her body lie in state inside the U.S. Capitol rotunda. However, the government shutdown would affect that honor that is generally given to all U.S. Senators. Her funeral arrangements are on hold due to the uncertainty of the looming shutdown.