PIKEVILLE, Ky. (Sept. 14, 2012) — The federal judiciary will close six federal courthouses in the south, including a leased space for federal bankruptcy court in Pikeville, over the next few years.
The Judicial Conference of the United States says the plan will $1 million a year in rent. More courthouses probably will be closed later.
The modest cost-saving measure is part of the Judicial Conference’s contingency plan to deal with possible severe budget cutbacks that could occur if Congress fails to reach a budget by the end of the year.
Without a budget, the U.S. is standing on what economists have dubbed a “fiscal cliff,” the end of a package of spending cuts and the removal of the Bush-era tax cuts that could add up to about $7 trillion.
The federal judiciary’s share of the cuts would be more than $500 million, according to the Associated Press.
The federal courthouse in Meridian, Miss., will also be closed. It is the site of several significant events in the civil rights movement, including trials for Ku Klux Klansmen implicated in the 1964 deaths of three civil right workers. The courthouse also is where James H. Meredith filed his lawsuit there in 1961 to integrate the University of Mississippi.
The other affected courthouses are in Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas. None of the courthouses have a judged based there; instead judges travel from larger cities to those courthouses as needed, the AP said.
In Pikeville, only leased space for federal bankruptcy court is affected, the district’s clerk said. Bankruptcy court will move to Pikeville’s federal courthouse, which will remain open.
The six were chosen from among 60 courthouses in 29 states. There are 674 federal courthouses around the country.