Turning aside criticism from some Republicans in the Congress, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed questions about an expensive judicial conference set for this summer in Hawaii, telling Senators the event is always run "in the most efficient and least costly manner."
"Our Conferences are renowned for the quality and depth of their educational programs," wrote Alex Kozinski, the Chief Judge for the Ninth Circuit.
"It is the only event that brings together the bench, the bar and court administrators from all corners of our circuit," Kozinski added.
Answering questions posed by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), Kozinski defended the cost of recent Ninth Circuit gatherings, arguing that the expenses were along the lines of what is incurred for normal government travel.
The standard "per diem" rate for lodging and food is $123 each day for a federal employee - that according to the General Services Administration.
For the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conferences, the per diem in effect for participants was: 2008 - $138/day, Sun Valley, Idaho 2009 - $197/day, Monterey, California 2010 - $273/day, Maui, Hawaii 2011 - $202/day, Carlsbad, California.
The Chief Judge did not report on travel expenses, begging off that it would take a lot of effort to get all that information together.
You can read the extensive response of the Ninth Circuit to see the answers and evaluate them for yourself.
The answers did not pass muster with the two Senators who asked for the details, as both Senators Sessions and Grassley slammed the message from the Ninth Circuit, labeling it "unapologetic."
"We remain deeply concerned about the conference’s overall costs," the two Senators said in a statement issued Tuesday evening, saying the Ninth Circuit remains "defiantly unapologetic about the conference’s scale, location, and itinerary in our current hour of financial crisis."
"They show no indication of changing their financial behavior in the future," the GOP Senators added.