9th Circuit Relents on Next Year’s Conference

     (CN) – Citing budget concerns, the 9th Circuit has postponed its 2013 conference planned for Monterey, Calif., but will apparently go ahead with this year’s controversial meeting in Hawaii.
     In a brief announcement on its website Friday, the federal appeals court said it will reschedule the 2013 Circuit Conference to 2014 in Monterey.
     This year’s three-day Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference is set to begin Aug. 13 at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa. The federal appeals court, which is a favorite political target of Republicans, has been under fire for months over the plan to hold its annual meeting at a high-priced Hawaiian resort.
     “The postponement responds to the current budget constraints facing the federal judiciary and the federal government in general,” the court said. “The decision was reached earlier this week after consultation with the host hotel in Monterey, the Hyatt Regency.”
     Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley and Jeff Sessions have pummeled the court with claims that taxpayer funds were being spent on a lavish island vacation for judges.
     Chief Judge Alex Kozinski shot back with a letter explaining that the conference had been held every year since 1944; that it served a valid, educational purpose; and that tax dollars covered only accommodations and meals.
     Though Friday’s press release makes no mention of the Hawaii event, it represents a partial surrender to the senators’ continuing onslaught.
     “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 Executive Cathy Catterson said in a statement. “We think this approach will meet both goals.”

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