The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa


September 5, 2013

We need to restore cuts that cripple U.S. courts

Last year’s across-the-board budget cut was a crazy scheme by Congress to hold a gun to its own head to finally deal with federal budget deficits. But the deadline came and went with no action on long-term spending reforms. The result was indiscriminate cuts that unnecessarily crippled some vital federal services.

Indeed, Congress had to restore funds for the Federal Aviation Administration to assure functioning air traffic control towers and for the USDA to keep meat inspectors on the job so meatpacking plants would not shut down. No such exemption has been granted for the branch of government that protects the legal and constitutional rights of all Americans. But it should be.

The federal courts’ total budget of just under $7 billion is just two-tenths of 1 percent of the federal budget. That is hardly a significant contribution to the deficit.

The cuts are having a direct effect on the ability of the nation’s 663 federal judges to deliver justice in a timely manner. Budgets for the federal courts, which already had been flat, were reduced by $350 million through sequestration. Since more than 60 percent of court spending goes to personnel, the budget ax falls on the people who do the work.

Courts can’t control their workload, however. That’s dictated by how many civil suits are filed by parties who have a right to expect the courthouse will be open for business. Criminal cases continue to be filed by federal prosecutors, who aren’t being furloughed. And historic levels of bankruptcy cases are still working their way through the system.

The most serious effect is on criminal defendants who cannot afford an attorney.

Text Only
  • Youngquist photo World Book Night celebrated April 23 The Clinton Public Library children's department plans to start a Legos club this June. We would appreciate donations of new or used Legos bricks. Please, no Duplo bricks. Drop donations at the children's desk on the second floor of the library. Root

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Walter Williams mug Equality in discipline George Leef, director of research for the North Carolina-based John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, authored a Forbes op-ed article titled "Obama Administration Takes Groupthink To Absurd Lengths." The subtitle is "School Discipline

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Reader is grateful for Iowa-American Water's help I would like to take this opportunity to extend my sincere gratitude to Iowa-American Water Company and its hard-working professional crew. I was without water, due to frozen pipes, for almost seven weeks. Everyone went above and beyond to get my wat

    April 17, 2014

  • 'Case Day' inspires students to aim high There's an MRCTV video circulating on the Internet that features a man with a microphone asking college students in Washington, D.C., to name just one member of the United States Senate. At least half a dozen are stumped. When he asks how many senato

    April 16, 2014

  • 4-15-14 13-Photo, Masters Bubba more than local hero? AUGUSTA, Ga. -- He plays a sexy game of golf, owns two green jackets and -- in what constitutes a show of major respect in these parts --Bubba Watson made rabid Georgia Bulldog fans take a break from spring football to watch some golf this weekend. A

    April 15, 2014 2 Photos

  • Leonard Pitts mug ...and this is Overkill News Network Enough, already. Please, for the love of Cronkite: Give us a break from the missing plane. Yes, we all wonder what happened to it. Yes, our hearts go out to the families seeking resolution. But really, CNN ... enough. Put your hands up and step away

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • If I can do it... If I can do this, you can also do this. What I would like to tell you about is being a volunteer driver for the Veterans Administration. I am retired from the electrical trade. I worked as an electrician for 36 years. When I took my retirement some t

    April 15, 2014

  • Allie Kibler mugshot YWCA camp offers fun for kids Each month YWCA members and volunteers are featured highlighting the many facets of our community in which they're a part of. This month, YWCA Youth Director, Allie Kibler shares information on this summer's YWCA Fun in the Sun Summer Camp program. T

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Could LBJ do as much today? Fifty years later, it's hard to imagine the enactment of the Civil Rights Act by today's polarized Congress. Maybe, as the old saying goes, today's fighting is so vicious because the stakes are so small. We Americans fight less among ourselves when w

    April 14, 2014

  • Retiring CCC instructors praise college's growth, direction After more than 35 years of service to Clinton Community College, we would like to offer some pre-retirement observations about the college: its past, its present and its future. When we arrived at the college in 1976, it had already been transforme

    April 14, 2014


Should the city of Clinton appeal the open records violation ruling that will cost taxpayers $40,600?

     View Results