Chief Justice John Roberts Highlights ‘Fiscal Cliff’ in Year-End Report


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iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Acknowledging the “much publicized fiscal cliff” and the country’s “truly extravagant and burgeoning national debt,” Chief Justice John Roberts dedicated the majority of his annual year-end report to a summary of the efforts by the Judiciary Branch of government to contain costs.

In the report, which is traditionally released on the last day of the year, Roberts writes, “No one seriously doubts that the country’s fiscal ledger has gone awry,” and says the public will look to its “elected officials to craft a solution.”

“We in the Judiciary stand outside the political arena, but we continue to do our part to address the financial challenges in our sphere.”

In the report, Roberts writes, “The Judicial Branch continues to consume a miniscule portion of the federal budget.”

Roberts explains:

  • In fiscal year 2012 the judiciary (including the Supreme Court , other federal courts, and the Federal Judicial Center) received a total appropriation of $6.97 billion.
  • The judiciary branch is focused on three targets to reduce expenses: rent, personnel expenses and information technology.
  • The rates of pay for judicial support staff have stayed the same for the past three years. Every employee’s compensation is continuously reviewed to ensure that it is consistent with job responsibilities.
  • The judiciary is exploring the practice of sharing administrative services among court units within judicial districts.

But Roberts cautions that it will become increasingly difficult to economize further “without reducing the quality of judicial services.” He points out that unlike the executive branch agencies, the courts do not have discretionary programs that can be eliminated or postponed.

Also, as he has done in years past, Roberts urges the other branches of government to act quickly to nominate and confirm judges in order to fill judicial vacancies across the country.

Roberts concludes the report on a hopeful note: “We know from experience that our durable Constitution provides the framework needed for able hands to overcome any obstacle, consistent with the rule of law.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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