U.S. Judiciary: Chief Justice John Roberts Issues 2010 Year-End Report

John Roberts, Chief Justice of the United States, issued a 2010 year-end report on the judiciary.

The report is relatively straightforward, laying out the goals of the judicial branch and its position on handling the financial constraints of the government and seeking additional judges for busy judicial districts.

The Chief Justice mentioned that while the U.S. judicial system is a model for the world, there is no place for complacency and thus courts must adapt to change.

The judiciary has responded to the call for change by issuing its Strategic Plan for the Federal Judiciary, which identifies seven issues critical to the future operation of the federal courts. [The “Strategic  Plan” is located at www.uscourts.gov/uscourts/FederalCourts/Publications/StrategicPlan2010.pdf.]

The Chief Justice noted that there are two obstacles to the goals the judiciary seeks–the economic downturn and the lack of judges in busy judicial districts.  The Chief Justice explains that the judiciary is doing its part to make the best use of the monies given to the judicial branch. The Chief Justice asks the Executive and Legislative branches of government to resolve the problem of judicial vacancies.

[Note 2: Judicial pay is the same as for 2010. See Executive Order 13561 (http://www.opm.gov/oca/compmemo/2010/2011PAY_Attach1.pdf).]

In the appendix to the report, the Chief Justice provides and explanation of the workload of the judiciary. I will focus on the Supreme Courts workload.

2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Filings 8521 8857 8241 7738 8159
In forma pauperis 6846 7132 6627 6142 6576
Paid docket 1671 1723 1614 1596 1583
argued 87 78 75 87 82
disposed 82 74 72 83 77
signed opinions 69 67 67 74 73

Mike Kelly and the Unwarranted Survival of “Individual Success” Stories

Mike Kelly, owner of a GM car dealership franchise, and soon-to-be Member of the House of Representatives (that is a person who draws a federal government paycheck), suggests in a Washington Post article that he is solely responsible for his lucrative fortune. This error-filled thinking occurs in “individual success” tales.

There’ve been times when I didn’t even take a paycheck out of here for six months. There’ve been times I cashed in my pension to put money back in the shop. There’ve been times I mortgaged my home to keep this business alive. I’ve been to the edge of the abyss and looked in and there’s nobody there to help you – nobody there.”

He conveniently forgets the massive contributions of others that allowed him to build a business.  Some illustrations of this follow.

  • Familial possession of capital. The dealership was started by his father, who had to have enough capital (or access to it) to afford a franchise.  Not everyone can manage this. [Note:  Mr. Kelly mentions that the government restructuring of GM got him into politics.  Where was he when GM was struggling before the financial crisis?  It is GM’s business decisions against the franchise owners that he should focus his anger on, not the government. At the very least, he still has cars to sell.]
  • Economic capital of past generations built the infrastructure and society that permits a business to be able to function (educated pool of people, health care, reliable system of laws, roads for people to drive on, etc.).
  • Banks. Without an extension of credit, there would be no business, period.
  • Economic strength of the U.S. middle class. Though under attack, without a middle class, there is absolutely no way that a mass manufacturer of goods can stay in business.  Mr. Kelly should think about this as he considers spending cuts to nondefense expenditures as a Representative.
  • Power of the United States owning the world’s currency, the dollar.

President Barack Obama: His Tax-Cut “Framework” is Another Example of His Facially Neutral, Cruel, and Merciless Decisionmaking

President Barack Obama over his term has shown an affinity to please those with power and pummel those without it. The recent decision to make a deal to extend the soon-former Bush tax cuts is only the latest example of this characteristic. His approach of making the decision for the framework is not satisfactory for a President. In addition, the President is making facially neutral, cruel, and merciless decisions on the income classes of the nonwealthy, but seeks to divorce himself from owning his savage knockout blows.

I read the President’s statement (his press conference was nearly intolerable to watch). It seems that the President would like the regular citizen to think that he is a judge: He heard the arguments from representatives of both political parties, thought about them, and made a decision to favor one over the other in an attempt to spare the public from an extended debate.

I find this method of decisionmaking to be completely unacceptable. First, a President of the United States, as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive of the United States, should have had his own proposals rather than just sit down passively to wait for others to bring policy options to him. Second, his decision-making style is far more appropriate in the the judicial branch than the executive.

Usually, Presidents make their own tax policy because they will be personally and institutionally identified with it. What the current President did is adopt his predecessor’s (George Bush) tax policy in some misguided thought that any problems would lay at Bush’s feet. As I have stated previously, once the President signs the extension bill, the tax act–with its many warts–will belong to President Obama alone; no more will he be able to blame Bush (Boehner or McConnell) for the soon-to-be-coming failures.

Moreover, the President has decided to implement the real reason for the deficit commission–destroying Social Security. The tax cuts are not paid for it is said, but I argue that the surplus funds of Social Security (paid for through FICA by the wage-earners of the United States) will be used to pay for the wealthy class’s tax cuts. The general fund being insolvent means that the workers’ monies will not be returned.

The President’s decision to have a FICA (a.k.a. payroll) tax cut sounds innocent enough until one realizes that taking contributions from Social Security for the current tax cuts will harm the Social Security system’s financial position over the long run. His decision also provides ample political cover for his GOP successor to accelerate the damage to Social Security.

In addition, the President–without any prodding and with a contented, solemn visage–decided to use his figurative cudgel to strike executive-branch employees with a two-year pay freeze proposal. The costs of living indifferently increase, so the employees could suffer a pay cut for years to come. The economic costs endured by those employees will not be recoverable in the future; it is likely the pay freeze could be made permanent.

Who could have ever imagined that a Democratic President would govern as a Republican. The recent turn of events is heartrending and devastating to witness.

Federal Employees: 2010 Early Dismissal for Christmas Seems Unlikely

Because Christmas will be observed as a federal holiday on Friday, December 24 (December 25 is a Saturday), I think it is unlikely that President Barack Obama will grant an early dismissal on Thursday, December 23.  [Note: Executive Order 13523 granted early dismissal in 2009.]

I could be wrong, but given the President’s position concerning the freezing of wages for federal employees, his concern about the deficit (without regard to the revenue-draining effect of the Bush-era tax cuts that he seeks to extend), and his desire to get along with the Republicans during the 112th Congress, I do not expect that he has thoughts of an early dismissal in his mind.

Democratic Party: No Political Theatrics with the Bush Tax-Cut Extension, Please; Deficit-Reduction Goals Must Be Shared by All Citizens

[Note (7/22/11): This post is the same for the fake drama surrounding the debt-limit debate. Somehow the distasteful bill will cuts hitting people making $100,000 or less will pass the Congress.)

I fear the Democrats are playing games. The Bush tax cuts will be extended and become the Obama tax cuts; the vote for the middle-class provisions will be for show only. Capitol Hill has become like Hollywood, except we expect products from Hollywood to be fictional. Please do not put up a bill certain to be voted down to show that you tried; that is insulting to the voter’s intelligence.

Despite the fact that the midterms were not outside historical norms, President Barack Obama will shamefully act as if he is a Republican for “bipartisan” comity. The Republicans are getting everything they want and have the Democrats politically protecting them.

Now, the issue of the Bush tax cuts has been set to inferno-heat levels. Should the President cave to extend the Bush tax cuts while issuing all manner of draconian measures for the lower income classes, disillusionment at the minimum will occur. There must be sacrifice among all income classes, especially the upper 2 percent.