U.S. Courts Say They Can’t Stay Open Past Feb. 1 If Shutdown Continues

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. court system can continue operating during the partial government shutdown until Jan. 31, according to a statement by the federal Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

While the judiciary is exploring ways to extend that run by a day, “no further extension beyond Feb. 1 will be possible,” the AOC said in a statement issued late Tuesday afternoon. The courts had previously said that they would need to close for the most part after Jan. 25.

America’s longest partial government closure is now in its 32nd day, with no clear end in sight. Senate leaders have agreed to vote on rival proposals to end the shutdown, which started Dec. 22.

Lawmakers will hold separate votes on a plan that includes $5.7 billion for border wall funding as well as a Democratic proposal that would reopen agencies through Feb. 8. It’s not clear either measure can garner enough votes to pass and gain President Donald Trump’s signature.

Should the court system largely shut down, civil lawsuits will bear the brunt of the impact. Criminal trials, in which public safety must be weighed against the constitutional rights of the accused, will continue.

“Extensions have been achieved through a multi-pronged strategy of deferring noncritical operating costs and utilizing court filing fees and other available balances,” according to the AOC statement. “Most of the measures are temporary stopgaps, and the judiciary will face many deferred payment obligations after the partial government shutdown ends.”

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