In case of a federal shutdown…
The Supreme Court will operate on its normal schedule next week, even if there is a shutdown of the federal government because of an impasse over new budget legislation, the Court announced Friday morning. The full text of the Court’s announcement read: “In the event of a lapse of appropriations, the Court will continue to conduct its normal operations through the week of April 11. The Court building will be open to the public during its usual hours.” (The usual hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays only.)
The Court’s notice, of course, did not deal with the following week, the week of April 18, when the Justices are presently scheduled to resume oral arguments, and to issue orders and, probably, some opinions in argued cases. Presumably, that will be revisited if there is a shutdown that lasts more than a few days.
In one of the previous government shutdowns, in 1995, the Court held a public session (without any arguments scheduled), and issued orders and admitted attorneys to its Bar.
Under the Constitution, the salaries of the Justices may not be diminished, so they would receive their pay even in the event of a shutdown, though the schedule of payments could be delayed. The same is true for lower federal court judges.
As of now, plans have not been made public for the conduct of the operations of the U.S. Solicitor General, which is a part of the Justice Department; the Department generally would operate only with “essential” personnel if the government closes. The Department has not responded to an inquiry about the Solicitor General’s plans.
Recommended Citation: Lyle Denniston, In case of a federal shutdown…, SCOTUSblog (Apr. 8, 2011, 9:38 AM), http://www.scotusblog.com/2011/04/in-case-of-a-federal-shutdown/