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February 2008

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This article is in the news archives --- for current news go to the Third Branch News.

 

Judiciary Funded For FY 2008


Fiscal year 2008 funding for the Judiciary was rolled up with 10 other appropriations bills and passed by Congress on December 19, 2007, as the 2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act. The President signed the bill into law the day after Christmas. The Judiciary received $6.246 billion in FY 2008, a 4.5 percent increase over FY 2007.

"Despite constrained allocations to our appropriations subcommittee, the Judiciary was funded at an extremely good level," said Administrative Office Director James C. Duff. "We believe this bill provides sufficient resources to finance continuing operations in the courts and to address thegrowth in workload, especially that associated with immigration enforcement." In the Act, Congress directed that a $25 million emergency appropriation be made available "to address critically understaffed workload associated with increased immigration enforcement."

With the decision by Congressional leaders to reduce spending in order to resolve a budget impasse with the President, FY 2008 had the potential for being a particularly tight year for appropriations. For most of the Executive Branch, it was. Final allocations for our appropriations subcommittee were reduced by $1 billion below their initial allocation.

"Obtaining an increased funding level for the federal courts in such a contentious budget environment demonstrates that the Judiciary remains a funding priority for Congress," said Duff. "It also reflects the concerted and sustained efforts of the Judicial Conference Budget Committee led by Judge Julia Gibbons (6th Cir.), judges around the country who are instrumental in our Congressional outreach initiative, and our AO staff."

The Judiciary's Salaries and Expenses account received $4.623 billion. At this level, the Executive Committee was able to approve a financial plan that provides court units with an overall increase of 7.7 percent in allotments over FY 2007. It is expected that those court units experiencing workload increases—primarily district clerks and probation and pretrial services offices—could continue to hire additional staff in FY 2008. Immigration-related workload is addressed with $14.5 million of the $25 million in emergency spending provided by Congress.

The Defender Services account received $846.1 million, or a 9 percent increase over FY 2007. This includes the remaining $10.5 million of the $25 million Congress provided in emergency spending for immigration-related workload. The appropriation included an hourly pay rate increase for criminal justice act attorneys.

The Court Security account received $410 million, an 8.3 percent increase. Congress also approved a pilot project requested by the Judiciary to have the U.S. Marshals Service assume perimeter security functions, currently performed by the Federal Protective Service, at a limited number of courthouses.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008 also included general provisions that:

  • create a place of holding court in Vancouver, in the Western District of Washington;
  • extend the temporary judgeships in the District of Kansas and the Northern District of Ohio for one year; and
  • give the Judiciary tenant alterations authority to contract directly for projects costing under $100,000 in lieu of contracting through the General Services Administration.