Judiciary Seeks $9.1 Billion in FY 2024 Budget Request
The federal Judiciary is seeking $9.1 billion in discretionary funding from Congress for fiscal year (FY) 2024, an increase of 8.0 percent over the FY 2023 appropriation, according to the Judiciary’s FY 2024 budget request, which was released to the public on March 9.
In the budget submission, Judge Amy J. St. Eve, chair of the Judicial Conference Budget Committee, and Judge Roslynn R. Mauskopf, director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, wrote that the funding is needed to maintain existing services, add some staffing to address caseload increases, and bolster IT security.
“Our constitutional system of government, with separation of powers and checks and balances, cannot function as intended if the judicial branch is not sufficiently resourced,” the judges wrote. “We ask that Congress acknowledge the nature and importance of the work of the federal courts and the impact this work has on society and our democracy by providing the Third Branch with the necessary resources to carry out its constitutional responsibilities.”
The Judiciary’s discretionary budget funds four primary categories of expenditure. The largest category, $6.4 billion for the salaries and expenses of courts nationwide, funds a number of critical new investments, including additional clerks and probation and pretrial services office staff due to higher workload estimates, and tenant alterations required to address life and safety issues. The request also includes $156.7 million for the courts to support the FY 2024 portion of the Judiciary’s multi-year cybersecurity and IT modernization plan.
Funding also is needed to support newly confirmed judges with working space and chambers staff. In FY 2021 and 2022, a total of 97 Article III judges were confirmed by the Senate, and an additional 110 confirmations are anticipated over FY 2023 and FY 2024.
The Judiciary is requesting $1.5 billion for defender services, an increase of $150.3 million (10.9 percent) over the FY 2023 enacted level. This would fund a projected 204,100 Criminal Justice Act representations in FY 2024. The request also includes $9.9 million for the federal defenders’ FY 2024 costs in support of the Judiciary’s multi-year cybersecurity and IT modernization plan.
A total of $783.5 million is requested for court security, an increase of $33.3 million (4.4 percent) above FY 2023. The funding would pay for increases to a vulnerability management program started after the 2020 slaying of Judge Esther Salas’ son, at their home in New Jersey. It also would cover emergency management activities, additional U.S. Marshals Service staffing requirements, and continued replacement and modernization of security systems and equipment.
The Judiciary seeks $59.9 million for jurors’ fees, an increase of $1.7 million (2.9 percent) over the FY 2023 enacted level. The FY 2024 request is sufficient to fund all projected petit and grand juror requirements.
The Judiciary also said funding for three partially funded courthouse projects is needed in the budget of the General Services Administration, which manages courthouse construction. These include $315.6 million in design and construction funding to address a judicial space emergency in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and $128.1 million and $76.3 million to fully fund construction of the new courthouses in Hartford, Connecticut, and Chattanooga, Tennessee, respectively. The Judiciary’s request notes that a cost estimate is being developed for a new courthouse in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
In their submission to Congress, Judges St. Eve and Mauskopf said that federal courts remain committed to prudent management of resources, noting that the Judiciary has employed a cost containment program since 2004. Much of the focus has been on restraining costs for personnel and workspace.
“These efforts have achieved significant cost savings and cost avoidance for nearly twenty years and will continue to do so,” the judges wrote. They added that the Judiciary also is “exploring lessons learned from operating during the pandemic with the goal of identifying additional efficiencies that could be implemented on a longer term or permanent basis.”