People For the American Way

Sequestering Justice

Two senior federal district court judges write today in US News that the dangerous budget cuts associated with the sequester could seriously damage our courts and our access to justice. Judge Charles Clevert of Wisconsin and Judge Joseph Rodriguez of New Jersey write:

Lawmakers, businesses, and citizens alike must recognize that budget sequestration imperils fundamental constitutional rights and courts that protect those rights. The right to be heard, the right to a speedy and public trial, and the right to effective assistance of counsel in criminal cases are cornerstones of our democracy. Sequestration could dissuade attorneys from accepting appointments to represent indigent defendants because of inadequate funding. Moreover, courts may need to close periodically, furlough employees, and cut security, thereby, delaying proceedings. …

Access to justice is not a luxury. …

America’s courts are the final line of protection for the legal rights of all. They provide access to justice, protect against abuses of power, and defend the Constitution. Failure to avert sequestration by March 1 undermines the ability of the federal courts to fulfill this Constitutional mandate

As if the ongoing judicial vacancy crisis weren’t bad enough, this would be yet another Republican-manufactured hit against the right of every American to have their day in court.


budget, Lower Federal Courts