(WASHINGTON) — Summoning Ebenezer Scrooge and the ghosts of the past and future, Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. devoted his annual report to the fate of the Judiciary.
“Let’s look,” Roberts wrote in the report released Tuesday, “at what has made our federal court system work in the past, what we are doing in the present to preserve it in an era of fiscal constraint, and what the future holds if the Judiciary does not receive the funding it needs.”
As part of his duties as Chief Justice of the United States, Roberts heads the Judicial Conference—the principal policy making body concerned with the administration of the U.S. Courts. Every New Year’s Eve, he files his “Year-End Reports on the Federal Judiciary.” Oftentimes the subject of the report concerns funding.
This year, he called the federal court system “the model for justice throughout the world.” He said the courts “owe their preeminence” to statesmen “who have looked past the politics of the moment and have supported a strong, independent, and impartial Judiciary.”
Roberts wrote that even at a time of fiscal constraint, the independent Judicial Branch consumes only the “tiniest sliver” (two-tenths of one percent) of the federal government’s total outlays.
He referenced the impact of the sequester which led in part to fewer court clerks able to process new civil cases, fewer probation and pretrial services officers, fewer public defenders and less funding for security guards a federal courthouses.
In the report, Roberts outlined how the Judiciary continues to look for ways to conserve funds—especially in space allocation.
In December, the Judicial Conference appealed to Congress to approve an appropriation of $7.04 billion for fiscal year 2014.
Roberts said that the consequences of forgoing the funding in favor of a hard freeze at the sequester level would be “bleak”. It would lead to more cuts in court staff, greater delays in resolving civil and criminal cases, and a potential threat to public safety.
A Christmas Carol, Roberts writes of the Dickens classic, had a happy ending. “We are encouraged that the story of funding for the Federal Judiciary—though perhaps not as gripping a tale—will too.”
A copy of the report can be found here.
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