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Updates on Courts and the Shutdown -- One More Week? Deal Soon?

By William Peacock, Esq. | Last updated on

Ten days ago, we briefed you on the Federal Courts' plan for the impending shutdown. Thanks to reserve funds from court fees and no-year appropriations, the courts had a plan in place to last ten days, possibly longer if funds could be conserved.

The ten days are up, but the funding isn't. Still, the court system is running on fumes, and those with cases before the court in the next week would be well advised to keep an eye out for closings and reschedulings.

New Deadline: Oct. 17th (or 18th)

An update posted to the federal courts website this morning notes that thanks to severely restricted spending over the past ten days, the courts have preserved enough funding to last until Thursday, October 17, and if they can pinch their pennies over the next four working days, perhaps through the end of business on Friday.

After that, the plan shifts to starvation mode under the Anti-Deficiency Act, which basically means minimal staffing levels to comply with bare minimum Article III requirements. For more information, see our previous post, and to check the status of your local court, monitor courts' websites.

SCOTUS in Session, For Now

We didn't think we'd see a Supreme Court closing, and we didn't. The court opened its October term and handled business as usual, though the Court's website states that they have sufficient funding to last through October 11. After that, the court's status could change, though in the mid-90s shutdowns, the Court remained open.

How Long Will the Shutdown Last?

It'd be a fool's errand to make predictions at this point, especially since we weren't even sure the shutdown would last this long. Nonetheless, positive signs are emerging.

After initially tying any resolution to defunding of Obamacare, many GOP leaders are shifting away from defunding the healthcare law and instead targeting other cutbacks, such as Social Security and Medicare, reports Politico.

And after House Speaker John Boehner stated earlier this week that any short-term deal would be tantamount to "unconditional surrender," according to NPR, he and fellow Republicans are pushing a compromise centered around a temporary extension of the debt ceiling to avoid default. The deal wouldn't involve a continuing resolution or additional funding for the government -- it would simply allow the treasury to avoid default, which protects the financial markets.

The White House calls the proposal "encouraging," even after President Obama previously stated that no deal would be struck until funding was restored.

In short: both sides are backing off their previously-stated extreme positions, which makes a deal in the near-term much more likely. No matter what your political stance on the matter, as practitioners, that is something we all agree would be a good thing.

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