U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, in his annual Year-End Report on the State of the Federal Judiciary, blasted the 2011 Budget Control Act’s automatic “sequestration” federal spending cuts and warned that the cuts to the federal court system’s budget “pose a genuine threat to public safety," reported Think Progress.
Roberts listed “adequate funding for the Judiciary” as the “single most important issue facing the courts.” Conceding that balanced budgets are important, Roberts blasted the Draconian sequester — cuts that came after nearly a decade of belt-tightening by the judicial branch. The $350 million in new across-the-board cuts have made it difficult for justice to be protected, Roberts argued, noting that “because virtually all of their core functions are constitutionally and statutorily required,” the courts have little discretion over what they spend:
"Sequestration cuts have affected court operations across the spectrum," said Roberts.
There are fewer court clerks to process new civil and bankruptcy cases, slowing the intake procedure and propagating delays throughout the litigation process.
There are fewer probation and pretrial services officers to protect the public from defendants awaiting trial and from offenders following their incarceration and release into the community.
There are fewer public defenders available to vindicate the Constitution’s guarantee of counsel to indigent criminal defendants, which leads to postponed trials and delayed justice for the innocent and guilty alike.
There is less funding for security guards at federal courthouses, placing judges, court personnel, and the public at greater risk of harm.
Roberts warns that without more restored funding to the federal courts, the future “would be bleak” for America’s judiciary — which “undermines the public’s confidence in all three branches of government.”
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