Chief Justice Roberts Dissents From Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court

Each year, on December 31st, the Chief Justice releases the annual end report of the federal judiciary. It had a recurring theme in 2021: The judiciary should be able to manage its own affairs. Congress shouldn’t stay out. The Chief called on “Big Bill”, better known as Chief Justice Taft who identified two types judicial independence: institutional independence and decisional independence.

During [Taft’]Over his nine year tenure, he was visionary in a vital matter for the Judiciary. He wanted to protect and strengthen the Branch’s independence. Taft was certain that nobody seriously doubted that judges should “be independent in their judgements”. Independent decision makingIt is vital to ensure due process and promote impartial decision-making free of political or any other influence. Taft also recognized the need for adequate courtroom space. Independence of institutions. This is because the Judiciary has the power to regulate its internal affairs, which protects it from any inappropriate political influence. It also helps maintain public trust in its role as separate but co-equal branch. 

Roberts didn’t mention the Presidential Commission on Supreme Court. Roberts didn’t need to. The Congress currently pushing for Court reform was sent this message. Roberts stated that he used his report “to highlight three topics that are currently being discussed.” Flagged by CongressThe press during the past year.” Roberts stressed the Court is in control of all three matters. Roberts stressed that the Court can ask for help if needed. We won’t answer the phone, so don’t bother calling us.

Roberts first addressed the WSJ report on judges who decided cases where they or their spouses had a financial stake. Is Congress allowed to intervene in the matter? Although updating conflict-of-interest systems might require additional funding, the Chief stated that it would be money well invested. However, Congress shouldn’t be the one leading.

Roberts also reaffirmed his “continuing concern about inappropriate behavior within the judiciary workplace.” The Chief expressed appreciation[d]Congressmen have voiced their concerns about this matter. However, once more the judiciary is able to handle this issue internally.

Roberts also wrote about a topic that is not getting much attention. Patrick Leahy (D.VT) and Tom Tillis, both members of Senate Judiciary Committee wrote a note to Chief Justice Roberts on November 2. Roberts said that the letter was sent “from both ends of the aisle”. It is a problem when judges hint at or expressly refer to party affiliations.

Senators voiced concern over forum shopping in patent cases. In general, litigants have the right to request that their case is heard in a specific division. Even if there is one judge within that division, litigants may choose their judge. They observed this, Senators.Judge Alan Albright of Texas’ Western District is assigned nearly 25% of all patent cases. Albright, the Waco Division’s only judge, handles almost 25% of these cases. Some reports state that Judge Albright solicited patent cases in open meetings at lawyer’s offices and elsewhere and advised patent plaintiffs to file infringement lawsuits before his court. Senators said that Judge Albright had repeatedly violated binding case law, and used his discretion to deny transfer motions. The Duke Law Journal published a report by Paul Gugliuzza, Jonas Anderson, and Paul Gugliuzza on this practice.  Tillis and Leahy made this “request”.[ed]This [Roberts]The Judicial Conference be directed to study actual and potential abuses that are possible under the present circumstances. They also asked that this report be completed by May 1, 2022, and should  “provide legislative recommendations.”

The December 15th, the Administrative Office Director wrote back saying that the office would review the problem by the deadline. However, this reply was insufficient. The Chief Justice Roberts dealt with the matter directly in his annual reports. Roberts said that it is not the judiciary’s fault. Congress establishes divisions and districts.

These are important but sometimes contradictory values. The Judicial Conference supports random case assignment and encourages district judges to be generalists who can handle all legal matters. However, the Conference recognizes that Congress deliberately fashioned the lower courts into divisions and districts codified in law to ensure that litigants receive the services of federal judges linked to their respective communities. 

Roberts, nevertheless, stressed the importance of the judiciary in this matter.

This issue of judicial administration provides another good example of a matter that self-governing bodies of judges from the front lines are in the best position to study and solve—and to work in partnership with Congress In such an event, a change to the law will be necessary. 

The Court will determine if any change is needed. Only then would Congress be able to work with the Court.

Roberts concluded his report by calling back to Taft’s two notions of judicial autonomy:

Chief Justice Taft recognized the importance of the Judiciary managing its own internal affairs to encourage informed ad-ministration as well as ensure the independence and impartiality of the Branch. He was aware that criticizing the judiciary is natural and lived through an era in which federal courts had to be criticized. Strident demands for reformSome are warranted, others not.

Roberts doesn’t explain the “strident demands for reform” he was referring to. He instead quotes President Taft’s 1914 speech to the American Bar Association.

The movement with reference to courts, general attacks against them. . . All impose on us as members of the Bar, and judges of courts and legislatures the obligation to eliminate as much as possible grounds for criticism of our judiciary system. 

Tip: If you find ellipses in your text, make sure to locate the original. Sometimes what an author leaves out is far more important than what it includes. You can see Taft’s address in Google Books, which was digitized by Google Books. Roberts text was not highlighted.

A agitation referring to courts, general attacks against them The grotesque solutions of recalling judges and recalling judicial decisions and resorting to demagogues as a way of propping up their political fortunes are both horrendous. all impose upon us, members of the Bar and upon judges of the courts and legislatures, the duty to remove, as far as possible, grounds for just criticism of our judicial system.

Hear Senator Sheldon “Demagogue” Whitehouse being called? The previous page features Taft’s criticism of another “grotesque” reform[]”–politicized bodies adding additional judges. Taft made a suggestion to increase the judiciary.

If there is a shortage of judges, we need to hear from the Supreme Court, a neutral authority and not affected by politics, about how many and where they are required. Then, the Supreme Court could increase the number of judges needed in order to address the actual exigency.

Did you hear about the SCOTUS commission. It is the “competent Court” that decides whether additional judges are required, and not incompetent or politicized. Roberts, C.J., dissenting.