In his annual report on the state of the federal judiciary, Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. said the third branch of government is doing more than its share to reduce expenditures at a time of fiscal crisis. He also called Monday on both the executive and legislative branches to "act diligently in nominating and confirming highly qualified candidates" to fill long-lingering judicial vacancies in the lower courts.
As he boasted about the judiciary's thriftiness, Roberts took note of the fiscal cliff negotiations and the "longer term problem of a truly extravagant and burgeoning national debt. No one seriously doubts that the country's fiscal ledger has gone awry." Roberts added that "the public properly looks to its elected officials to craft a solution. We in the judiciary stand outside the political arena, but we can continue to do our part to address the financial challenges within our sphere."
The Supreme Court continues to trim its budget, requesting ever-lower levels of appropriation. For fiscal year 2014, Roberts said, the court will submit a $74.89 million budget requesta 3.7 percent decrease from fiscal 2011, with cuts coming "primarily in the areas of financial and human resources management."
Overall in 2012, Roberts said the entire judiciary received a total of $6.97 billion in appropriations, which works out to two-tenths of a percent of the total federal budget of $3.7 trillion. "Yes, for each citizen's tax dollar, only two-tenths of one penny go toward funding the entire third branch of government!" Roberts exclaimed, "Those fractions of a penny are what Americans pay for a judiciary that is second to none."
Roberts paid tribute to the "loyal and selfless service" of judges and other employees of the judicial branch. He singled out U.S. District Judge Mark Kravitz of the District of Connecticut, who died Sept. 30 of Lou Gehrig's disease, as "not only a superlative trial judge, but an extraordinary teacher, scholar, husband, father and friend."