Unlike most federal agencies, the federal judiciary found money to keep federal courts nationwide fully funded for the first two weeks of the government shutdown, says the National Law Journal. As the end of the first week approached with no budget deal, chief judges of federal trial and appellate courts grappled with what to do once the money runs out. “We’re all working through it, trying to figure out where we’re going to go right now,” said Chief Judge Morrison England Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. “We’re in uncharted territory right now.”
Many judges expected to send home employees serving certain administrative functions—human resources, for instance—as nonessential. Several judges spoke about the pain of declaring employees nonessential having already gone through furloughs, hiring freezes and layoffs during the mandatory federal budget cuts earlier this year known as sequestration. “We’re already operating at a lower number, so it’s kind of hard to take more people away,” England said.