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Statement of James R. Silkenat, president, American Bar Association Re: Government shutdown


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Statement of James R. Silkenat, president, American Bar Association Re: Government shutdown

By Irma Romero

WASHINGTON, DC, Oct. 1, 2013 -- This government shutdown is a historic failure that imperils justice in our country. The American Bar Association calls on members of Congress to immediately send a budget to President Obama before the consequences of government shutdown manifest.

The political brinksmanship that brought our government to a standstill reflects the same intransigence and unwillingness to compromise that imposed sequestration on our national government and hardships on many who contract with, work for or receive certain nonentitlement benefits from the federal government. Federal courts already face staff reductions and programmatic cuts that threaten public safety.  The failure to reach accord on a continuing resolution to fund the government has also scuttled both chambers attempts to add extra funding to pay for indigent defense representation.

Courts will be able to stay open for an additional 10 days, and some essential court functions will continue during the shutdown if it lasts longer. Nonetheless, our citizens’ access to justice through the federal courts and the Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial will increasingly be in jeopardy. The third branch of government faces dire straits.     

Congress has practically abdicated its constitutional responsibility to provide a budget for the government. It is time to end the scorched earth tactics and send a budget to the president.

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Please click here for a biography and photo of James R. Silkenat, president of the American Bar Association. 

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