No doubt many frustrated federal employees have thought it. Now a federal judge has said it: “It is time to tell Congress to go to hell.”
That’s what Richard Kopf, a senior district judge in Nebraska, wrote on his personal blog last week, adding that “it’s the right thing to do.”
It should quickly be said that Kopf, named to the bench by President George H.W. Bush in 1992 and now semi-retired, was speaking figuratively as to how the judiciary should react to the funding impasse that triggered the partial government shutdown Oct. 1.
As FedLine has previously noted, the courts have so far been able to maintain relatively normal operations because of fee income and prior-year appropriations. That reprieve will run out at the end of this week, forcing chief judges in every district and circuit to decide which employees are essential and will keep working and which will be furloughed as non-essential, according to a spokesman for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.
Kopf’s advice: “Reject the premise of the question.” Considering how many employees the courts have already lost because of the sequester and other forces, he asked, “why shouldn’t every remaining employee of every federal district court (including [Federal Public Defender] employees) be declared “essential?”