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3 Ways the D.C. Circuit Is Ignoring the Shutdown

By Brett Snider, Esq. on October 15, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In a time of governmental uncertainty, the D.C. Circuit isn't among the government institutions paralyzed by the federal government shutdown.

Like a Mr. Magoo wandering through a wildly dangerous construction site without his glasses, the court seems content to ignore the political squabbles that are giving furloughed employees and cable news pundits such great anxiety.

Here are just three ways in which the D.C. Circuit is ignoring the shutdown:

1. Still No Opinions

If you had just turned your attention to the D.C. Circuit within the last week or two, you might think that the lack of published opinions were due to the shutdown.


Wrong. The D.C. Circuit, perhaps as a portent of troubled political times ahead, published its most recent opinion to date on September 10, 2013 -- more than a full month before the time of this article's publishing. Why? We're not quite sure. Perhaps they were out to lunch ... for a month. 

So don't let the pundits confuse you, neither the Republicans nor Obama are responsible for this lack of activity.

2. Hearings Are Still On

Despite failing to pen a single opinion, the Court has announced that it will remain open for business during the shutdown ... at least until October 17. At that time, the Court will reassess its position in light of the state of the shutdown -- if it remains down.

According to the Blog of Legal Times, the D.C. Circuit has repeatedly denied requests by the DOJ to reschedule hearings due to the shutdown. This might be a problem for the government, as the ABA Journal reports that the DOJ's current policy is to delay litigation during the shutdown.

3. Nominees on Hold

As you may recall, there has been a somewhat productive summer for Congress in vetting and grilling three nominees to the D.C. Circuit. However, according to Legal Newsline, with the government shut down, the Senate Judiciary Committee has postponed a vote on D.C. Circuit nominee Leon Wilkins, who had somewhat of a softball hearing back in September.

The court has been operating just fine -- *cough* no opinions *cough* -- with three open spots, and by golly, why would delaying votes on potential D.C. Circuit judges stop the court from doing its thing. Come Thursday, however, the Court may have to change its tune about the shutdown.

Curious about the courts and the shutdown? Join the discussion on Facebook at FindLaw for Legal Professionals.

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