With over 800,000 federal employees out of work due to the shutdown, the full economic impact on a local level has yet to be felt. Many government agencies are closed or are about to be. So what does this mean for the legal community?
The federal courts will continue to operate during the shutdown, as will the Supreme Court of the United States. The Administrative Office of the Courts in Washington stated that they will reevaluate the financial situation after 10 days before making any long-term decisions. The U.S. Department of Justice has also released a contingency plan indicating that the US Attorneys would continue to prosecute criminals.
In the laws that restrict government funding in the absence of a budget for appropriations, like the shutdown we’re currently going though, exceptions exist for “essential work”.
Since the Department of Justice deals directly with matters that involve protecting human lives and property, the majority of their employees will likely continue working despite the lack of funding from the government. So while it’s unlikely the federal criminal system will shut down, it’s more than likely that cases in the civil system will experience delays.
At this time, the ripples will only be felt locally by those who receive direct funding and grants from the federal government, but this will depend on how long the shutdown continues. Most federal grants and funds have been dispersed this year but if the shutdown proves to be lengthy then greater effects might be felt in the near future.