Judges are Defying the Justice Department to Keep Cases Moving During the Shutdown

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Across the country, the Justice Department is arguing that their lawyers should not work during the partial government shutdown, which is now in its sixth day. But judges in those courts are pushing back, saying their functioning is essential to keep people and property safe, according to Bloomberg.

The DOJ says that their lawyers are not allowed to work, even without pay, while the government remains shut down. But, in several cases, U.S. judges have ruled against the agency.

U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss in Washington decided he would not delay briefings in a lawsuit brought against the Trump administration’s new rules on immigrants seeking asylum.


“Government functions may continue [if they affect] the safety of human life or the protection of property,” Moss wrote .

The judge pointed at a government report recommending that 91 percent of Customs and Border Protection workers and many other immigration officials should continue to work during a shutdown.

Meanwhile, Chief U.S. District Judge James Bredar has ruled that a case in Maryland regarding civilian oversight of the Baltimore Police Department will go forward, calling the shutdown “a dispute internal to one party.”

“Deeply serious matters involving the safety and well-being of the citizens of Baltimore are at issue in this case, and the court is determined that implementation of the previously entered consent decree will not be impaired or delayed by this sort of collateral issue,” Bredar wrote in an order.


Not everyone pushing back on the directive are judges: a dozen state attorneys general joined a coalition to oppose delaying the January 2nd deadline for a joint filing in a lawsuit regarding the Affordable Care Act.

But the DOJ continues to push for delays.

“Although we greatly regret any disruption caused to the court and the other litigants, the government hereby moves for a stay of all deadlines” a typical U.S. statement said, in a case regarding the government’s family separation policy.


There’s at least one case in which the government has decided working through the shutdown is essential—a San Francisco appeals court case that would allow the government to implement their new asylum policies on the border. I guess we know what their priorities are!