The highest court in the land is straining under the yoke of sequestration.
The US Supreme Court is a small part of the judicial branch of the US government, and looks even smaller when viewed in terms of its federal budget requirement in comparison with the legislative and executive branches – yet even this small slice of the federal pie is facing serious cuts.
Supreme Court staffers who recently testified before Congress have claimed that the proposed cuts may mean that justice will be poorly served, or not served at all. Some even went so far as to say that criminals may walk free and that innocent people could wind up in jail if the judiciary loses the funds needed to properly vouchsafe people’s rights as afforded to them under the Constitution.
The problem extends far beyond the Supreme Court, however, and threatens to impact the entire federal judiciary, which includes the regional federal courts and a large body of administrative and federal law enforcement staff that are responsible for meting out justice for the country’s most serious offenders – both white-collar and violent criminals whose actions impact entire communities and the nation at large.
The federal judiciary faces $350 million in cuts and many officials say the consequences will not be felt in a month or a year – they will be felt immediately by everyone everywhere as courts fail to meet their obligations to the people. Court officials and security guards are being furloughed and salaries for public defenders are getting slashed, which means that US citizens will be denied their rights to counsel and a speedy trial.
The effects will likely be felt in every corner of society as the wheels of justice begin to grind ever more slowly, but it appears there will be no reprieve for the judiciary or any other branch of government as Congress and the White House continue to fail to come to a consensus over how to balance the nation’s budget.