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Chief Justice John Roberts: Sequestration Is Putting Public Safety At Great Risk

Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts warns that sequestration and cuts to the federal court system “pose a genuine threat to public safety” in his annual Year-End Report.

Appointed in 2005 by George W. Bush, the conservative justice criticized the Draconian spending cuts made automatic by the 2011 Budget Control Act.

The $350 million cuts to the federal justice system have left justice itself hanging in the balance “because virtually all of their core functions are constitutionally and statutorily required,” he said.

He said “adequate funding for the Judiciary” is the “single most important issue facing the courts.”

“Sequestration cuts have affected court operations across the spectrum,” Roberts wrote. “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," he continued. "There is less funding for security guards at federal courthouses, placing judges, court personnel, and the public at greater risk of harm.”

Without restoring funding to federal courts, he believes the future of the judiciary branch “would be bleak.”

“[A]s I have pointed out previously, the independent Judicial Branch consumes only the tiniest sliver of federal revenues, just two-tenths of one percent of the federal government’s total outlays,” Roberts wrote.

Meanwhile, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the top Republican official on the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, said in November that he thinks “sequestration is working.”

Sources: ThinkProgress, Washington Post


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