UPDATE: The judiciary said on Jan. 15 that it expects paid operations to continue at least until Jan. 25. Read more.
The federal judiciary said Monday it will try to sustain paid operations amid the partial government shutdown through Jan. 18, one week later than initially estimated.
“In an effort to achieve this goal, courts have been asked to delay or defer non-mission critical expenses, such as new hires, non-case related travel, and certain contracts. Judiciary employees are reporting to work and currently are in full-pay status,” according to an advisory the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts posted.
The judiciary said it has “continued to operate by using court fee balances and other ‘no-year’ funds.” The advisory said only “essential work” would continue after Jan. 18.
“This mission critical work includes activities to support the exercise of the courts’ constitutional powers under Article III, specifically the resolution of cases and related services. Each court would determine the staff necessary to support its mission critical work,” the advisory said.
During the last major shutdown, in 2013, more than two dozen courts declared all of their employees “essential,” spurning guidance from the judiciary. The moves by those courts flowed in part from steep budget cuts that had already diminished staffing levels.
Responding to requests from the U.S. Justice Department, some federal district courts have issued orders generally suspending civil litigation that involve federal agencies. The advisory said “criminal cases are expected to proceed uninterrupted.”
The judiciary’s advisory said: “Courts have been encouraged to work with their district’s U.S. Attorney, U.S. Marshal, and Federal Protective Service staff to discuss service levels required to maintain court operations. The General Services Administration has begun to reduce operations and courts are working with their local building managers to mitigate the impact on services.”