Chief Justice John Roberts on Monday called on the White House and Congress to provide sufficient funding and enough judges to ensure that the federal judiciary can do its job well despite the fiscal problems the country faces.
In his annual report on the federal judiciary, Roberts recognized the battle in Washington over the “fiscal cliff,” saying the country has a fiscal ledger that has “gone awry” and must address the longer-term problem of a “truly extravagant and burgeoning national debt.”
He said the judiciary has been doing its part to cut costs aggressively, but can only go so far given that it cannot choose its caseload or economize much further without reducing the quality of its services.
Roberts noted the efforts of some courts to stay open after Hurricane Sandy, with the Manhattan federal court working without heat and under sparse light from emergency generators a day after the storm struck in late October.
“A significant and prolonged shortfall in judicial funding would inevitably result in the delay or denial of justice for the people the courts serve,” he wrote. “I therefore encourage the President and Congress to be especially attentive to the needs of the Judicial Branch and provide the resources necessary for its operations.
One need is judicial vacancies, which can be harder to fill amid partisan divides in Washington.