Citing budget constraints, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals announced today it has decided to reschedule next year’s judicial conference in Monterey, California.
The announcement comes nearly a month after Republican lawmakers estimated the conference might cost more than $500,000 in accommodations. They asked the Ninth Circuit – often targeted by conservatives for its liberal rulings – to explain its decision to hold this year’s conference in Maui.
“We firmly believe in the importance of the Conference in educating the federal bench and bar and in advancing governance of the Circuit. But we also recognize the need to conserve financial resources during the present fiscal crisis,” Circuit and Court of Appeals Executive Cathy Catterson said. “We think this approach will meet both goals.”
Republican Sens. Jeff Sessions (Ala.) and Charles Grassley (Iowa) wrote to Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski in May asking for the conference’s expense details. The lawmakers have an “obligation” to protect taxpayer money from “abuse,” they wrote.
Kozinski defended in detail the Ninth Circuit’s decision to hold the conference in Maui in a letter addressed to both lawmakers. The conference exposes the public to the role of the federal courts; helps “improve the administration of justice”; and allows lawyers, judges, academics, and court staff to discuss important legal issues within the Ninth Circuit.
The conference is scheduled for August 13-16 at the Hyatt Maui Regency Resort and Spa.
“The Conference is cost efficient and a productive investment into the administration of justice in the western states,” Catterson said.
The judicial conference has been held every year since 1944.
The circuit’s headquarters are in San Francisco, but it has jurisdiction also over Hawaii, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Alaska, and Nevada.