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Debt-Ceiling Court Case Postponed

As long as we are on the subject of the debt ceiling, the "dramatic," last-minute court case that might have taken things out of Congress' and the White House's hands has been postponed. The National Association of Government Employees (NAGE) was the plaintiff, and its argument was that the debt ceiling is not legal and should be struck down. NAGE established standing by arguing that honoring the debt ceiling might well lead to government employees going unpaid, thus damaging the membership of the union.

Now that a resolution to the crisis appears to be imminent, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Stearns is no longer willing to fast-track the case. So, he issued a brief order yesterday setting the hearing date to... some unspecified time in the future. The Department of Justice had asked for this course of action, NAGE had opposed it, and the DoJ won.

Presumably, the Judge kept things wide-open so that the hearing can be rescheduled quickly in the event that the debt-ceiling deal falls apart. If it passes, however, one has to imagine that there will be no hearing, ever. It's possible to establish standing on the basis of imminent damage being done. It's not so easy to establish standing on the basis of "well, this problem could maybe possibly come up in the future." (Z)

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