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Washington (AFP) – U.S. federal courts will have to close their doors at the end of next week if no deal is reached to end the government shutdown, officials said.

Barring an agreement by Congress, the courts will face a shortage of funds by latest the end of business on October 18, the U.S. courts’ administrative office said.

The court system has used fees and other funds to stay open since October 1, when a budget impasse caused the federal government to partially shutdown for the first time in 17 years.

The stalemate, which has until now largely spared the federal courts, has resulted in furloughs for thousands of “non-essential” federal workers.

The Supreme Court, which just began a new term, said it would hold hearings next Tuesday and Wednesday, as expected. A highly anticipated debate over university affirmative action is expected Tuesday.

“The federal courts may be open during the government shutdown, but it’s far from ‘business as usual'” the administrative office wrote Monday.

U.S. attorneys across the country were directed to “curtail or postpone” civil litigation “to the extent that this can be done without compromising … the safety of human life or the protection of property,” according to a September 30 Justice Department memo.

Judges have decided on a case-by-case basis whether to send clerks home or suspend certain hearings.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

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