Roberts: Federal Judiciary Costs Less Than a Penny Out of Every Tax Dollar

Corrected: In his year-end report (PDF), Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. acknowledged “a truly extravagant and burgeoning national debt,” but said the federal judiciary is doing its part to control costs.

The judicial branch received $6.97 billion in appropriations in fiscal 2012, Roberts wrote. “That represented a mere two-tenths of one percent of the United States’ total 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!”

The judiciary is reducing its rent and personnel costs, Roberts said, but its aggressive cost-containment has made it difficult to economize further without reducing quality. “Unlike executive branch agencies, the courts do not have discretionary programs they can eliminate or projects they can postpone,” he wrote.

Roberts said the Supreme Court is also doing its part. Its 2013 appropriation request rose to $77.16 million “largely in response to new judicial security needs,” but the amount is still less than its fiscal year 2011 request. In fiscal year 2014, the Supreme Court will seek 3.7 percent less than the 2011 request.

The Wall Street Journal and its Law Blog (both sub. req.) note that Roberts did not use his report as he has in past years to lobby for pay increases for federal judges. Also covering Roberts’ report are the New York Times, the Washington Post and The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times.

Updated at 11:55 a.m. to correct the amount received by the judicial branch to $6.97 billion.

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