Chief Justice: Justice Rationing Is A Civil Rights Issue

The real battle over Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2014-15 budget plans got under way this week with California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye saying that budget cuts are not just a fiscal problem but a civil rights problem. Her comments at a Tuesday press conference and in related interviews indicate that the “civil rights issue” will likely highlight this year’s argument for more courts funding. Last year, cuts in Los Angeles County brought threats of legal action based largely on access issues.
The chief justice told the Los Angeles Times that the governor’s spending plan probably would trigger more courthouse closures and layoffs and increase delays for trials and divorce and custody matters. Brown’s plan includes an “additional” $105 million for the courts in 2014-15, but Cantil-Sakauye wants a three-year plan with much more spending. “We are rationing justice, and it has become more than a fiscal problem,” Cantil-Sakauye told reporters. “It is, in my view, it is now a civil rights problem. … We know we are denying the protections of an American democracy.”

You can read the L.A. Times story here.