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September 28, 2006

Keeping an eye on the judiciary

An interested reader has sent me this interesting press release about the House Judiciary Committee approving proposed legislation to establish an "Inspector General for the Judicial Branch."  Here are details from the press release:

The House Judiciary Committee today overwhelmingly approved legislation establishing an independent Inspector General (IG) for the Judicial Branch by a 20-to-6 vote.  The Judicial IG, though more limited in power than the more than 60 IGs currently serving in agencies and other places, would be charged with identifying waste, fraud, and abuse in the Federal Judiciary's $6 billion annual budget as well as investigating alleged misconduct under the "Judicial Conduct and Disability Act of 1980." ...

House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-Wis.), the sponsor of H.R. 5219, stated, "An overwhelming number of my colleagues today recognized that an independent Judicial IG will improve the spending, operations, and integrity of the Federal Judiciary. Currently there is no auditor for how the Federal Judiciary spends its money. An independent IG can help the courts eliminate wasteful spending and more efficiently administer the judiciary’s six billion dollar budget."...

The Committee adopted by voice vote a substitute amendment offered by Chairman Sensenbrenner to clarify the role of the Inspector General.  The legislation now explicitly prohibits the Inspector General from investigating or reviewing the merits of a judicial decision.  The substitute also significantly narrows the investigatory powers of the Inspector General to only alleged misconduct under the "Judicial Conduct and Disability Act of 1980." The bill originally authorized the IG to investigate all "matters pertaining to the Judicial Branch."

This bill might readily be characterized as another salvo in the pitched battle between the legislature and the federal judiciary or as simply a small effort to create some useful oversight for the management of the judicial branch.  Thoughts, dear readers?

September 28, 2006 at 06:04 AM | Permalink

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Comments

So, the Chief Justice appoints the IG and the IG is to investigate "waste, fraud & abuse" in the judiciary. That all depends on how well we can expect the appointed fox to guard the other appointed foxes and elected hens. Are IG's worth the money they save? If the judiciary in such disrepute that an IG is needed to clean it up, democracy and the media are not working. I've said it before, but, "is there a clean broom in the house?" By that, I mean, does anybody think that the practice of law in these quarters is politically neutral?

Posted by: majormori | Sep 28, 2006 8:39:21 AM

How much waste can there be in a $6 billion budget?

It's like the absurd argument that splitting the Ninth Circuit would be "too expensive."

Get real...

Posted by: KipEsquire | Sep 28, 2006 8:39:47 AM

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115931733674775033.html?mod=opinion_main_commentaries

Also, former Justice O'Connor wrote an opinion piece about this in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal.

I think the link will only work for wsj subscribers, but the wsj law blog has a post on her piece

Posted by: Brian | Sep 28, 2006 10:49:22 AM

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