The Corner

Ninth Circuit Court Criticized for $1 Million Conference Plans

Two Republican senators have sent a query to the federal appeals court for Ninth Circuit about a $1 million conference the court planned for this August. That bastion of Left Coast legal liberalism apparently considered it necessary to head even further west, to Hawaii, in order to hold discussions on “the business of the courts and advising means of improving the administration of justice within the circuit.” One could only hope that, with a scandal one-and-a-quarter the size of the one that forced several GSA officials to resign, perhaps some Ninth Circuit judges might do the same. The Hill reports:

Two senior Senate Republicans on Monday blasted plans by judges in the 9th Circuit to hold a conference in Hawaii this August that they said could run up a tab of $1 million or more, and includes a schedule of sport fishing, yoga, surfing lessons and Zumba dancing lessons.

Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Budget Committee ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) last week wrote to 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Alex Kozinski to warn that the Hawaii meeting does not appear to fit with the 9th Circuit’s own opinion that the federal budget is tight. The letter was sent just weeks after Republicans took the General Services Administration (GSA) to task for a notorious $800,000 conference that led several GSA officials to resign.

“We are concerned about the overall cost of this conference and do not believe that discussions about the administration of justice would be less successful were they held somewhere other than a spa and resort in Hawaii,” the senators wrote. The letter adds that while conference organizers note that government funds are not to be used for recreation, the conference program “reads more like a vacation than a business trip to discuss the means of improving the administration of justice.”

According to a website announcing the conference, the meeting is authorized by law to consider “the business of the courts and advising means of improving the administration of justice within the circuit.” According to the schedule, it opens Sunday, Aug. 12, with a golf tournament, and includes a tennis tournament on Tuesday and an ice cream social and garden tour on Wednesday, among various meetings and panels held at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa. 

Patrick BrennanPatrick Brennan is a writer and policy analyst based in Washington, D.C. He was Director of Digital Content for Marco Rubio's presidential campaign, writing op-eds, policy content, and leading the ...

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