President Donald Trump’s judicial appointments are among the factors contributing to the federal judiciary’s request to Congress for a 4.4% increase in its budget.
Trump has moved aggressively to fill the federal judiciary with conservatives. So far, that’s resulted in 188 judicial appointees to federal district and appeals courts, and two justices on the Supreme Court: Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch.
The judiciary’s requested funding boost for the next fiscal year takes into account money needed to provide salary and benefits for a higher-than-expected volume of judges confirmed and their chambers staff, a judiciary spokesman said.
Specifically, the request is for the “substantial increase” in judicial confirmations beginning in April 2019, the fiscal year 2021 request said of the spending period that begins Oct. 1. Most of the newest judges this year have been for district courts.
The request comes before a U.S. House Appropriations Committee hearing scheduled for Feb. 26 where lawmakers will scrutinize the judiciary’s request.
James C. Duff, who directs the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts and John W. Lungstrom, chair of the Judicial Conference’s budget committee are slated to testify. The total appropriation request for fiscal year 2021 is about $8.6 billion.
The courts’ office oversees operations of the judiciary, while the Judicial Conference is the policy making body for the judiciary.
Most of the requested increase will go toward “maintaining current services,” the request said. That includes accommodating federal pay rate increases enacted by Congress for the current fiscal year and a contribution to the Federal Employees Retirement System. But there are other factors as well.
In addition of offsetting the cost of more judges, the judiciary is also requesting funds for more staff to address an increase in criminal cases, updates to or replacement of old facilities, and implementation of the First Step Act, which speeds up the amount of time it takes for inmates to transition out of prison and into probation officer supervision, a spokesman for the courts’ office said.