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News Link • Justice and Judges

Budget Cuts Imperil Federal Court System, Roberts Says

  He said the mandatory budget cuts known as sequestration had taken a disproportionate toll on the federal court system and were poised to “pose a genuine threat to public safety.”
Unlike federal agencies, the chief justice said, the federal courts do not have discretionary programs they can postpone or eliminate, “because virtually all of their core functions are constitutionally and statutorily required.”

Chief Justice Roberts said the judicial branch had worked to reduce its costs for almost a decade, “long before the talk of fiscal cliffs and sequestration came into vogue.” This included, he said, restraints on courthouse construction and hiring.

The cuts that went into effect in March reduced judiciary funding by 5 percent, or nearly $350 million, the chief justice wrote, though Congress restored some of the financing in October. The reductions have created widespread delays in civil and bankruptcy cases, he wrote. Over time, he said, these delays will give rise to “commercial uncertainty, lost opportunities and unvindicated rights.”

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