Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has called on Congress to set aside politics when it comes to funding the federal courts.
Oh, the irony.
In his year end report, he wrote, “The United States courts owe their preeminence in no small measure to statesmen who have supported a strong, independent, and impartial judiciary as an essential element of just government and the rule of law.”
This from a Supreme Court justice who is considered to be the most pro-business, anti-worker justice since World War II.
One cannot help but wonder how the Court hopes to rally public support when it has consistently refused to allow its proceedings to be televised and has provided virtually no leadership to encourage the use social media and internet technology to better serve the public. The Roberts’ court has done little, if anything, to help the public understand the importance of the judiciary is a democratic society.
The U.S. Supreme Court who?
A suggestion for Congress – this might be a good time to encourage the Court to open its doors to television cameras.
Moreover, the Roberts’ court appears to be terribly, woefully and sadly out of touch with the masses, tuning out the little folk who pay federal judges’ hefty salaries while providing a megaphone to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Roberts is seeking $7 billion appropriation in 2014, which compares to $6.97 billion allocated last year (reduced by about $300 million by sequestration, after Congress gave the courts an additional $51 million in October). The Court has passed along budget cuts to federal public defender offices, clerks, parole and probation officers.
The business of federal courts appears to be down overall. Filings in civil and criminal cases grew by 1 percent in 2013 but filings in appeals courts dropped by 2 percent; filings in the Supreme Court dropped by 2.6 percent; and, filings in bankruptcy courts dropped by 12 percent.
One reason for the decline may be that victims of employment discrimination are foregoing the use of federal courts because of the hostility of federal judges to job discrimination claims.
A 2013 article in The Minnesota Law Review reviews some 2,000 U.S. Supreme Court decisions and ranked the 36 justices who served on the court from 1946 to 2011 by the proportion of their pro-business votes.
Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., both appointed by GOP President George W. Bush, are the most likely to vote in favor of business interests of any of the 36 justices who has served since 1946. And three other current conservative justices are in the top ten of most pro-business justices since 1946. They are Justices Clarence M. Thomas, Antonin Scalia and Anthony M. Kennedy.
Also on the Court are Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia M. Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, all appointed by Democratic presidents.
The study was prepared by Lee Epstein, a law professor at the University of Southern California; William M. Landes, an economist at the University of Chicago; and Judge Richard A. Posner, of the federal appeals court in Chicago, who teaches law at the University of Chicago.