Congress and the White House need to restore funding to the nation’s federal courts to keep from undermining “the public’s confidence in all three branches of government,” Chief Justice John Roberts said Tuesday in his year-end report.

Roberts has made similar calls for more money in the past.

“I would like to choose a fresher topic, but duty calls. The budget remains the single most important issue facing the courts,” he said.

The courts have been severely affected by government cost-cutting, Roberts said.

“The combined effects since July 2011 of flat budgets followed by sequestration reduced on-board court staffing levels by 3,100 (14 percent) to about 19,000 employees — the lowest staffing level since 1997, despite significant workload increases over that same period — and reduced federal defender offices staffing by 11 percent in fiscal year 2013 alone,” he said.

What would happen if the sequestration cuts continue? If Congress instead freezes court funding at sequester level, it “would lead to the loss of an estimated additional 1,000 court staff,” Roberts said.

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