Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts on Thursday released his annual report on the federal judiciary, largely sidestepping controversies over the ethical and financial conduct of judges on the country’s highest court.
The report focused instead on improving access to the courts and what Roberts called “the immense service rendered by dedicated public servants on the federal courts.”
The move effectively avoids addressing clashes between the court’s four liberal-leaning justices and its more conservative members, who had faced criticism for meeting with powerful citizens away from the courtroom.
The report also skirted discussion about the court’s own financial practices, including potential conflicts of interest related to certain corporate investments and foreign travel permitted for some higher-level civil judges.
Instead, Roberts highlighted the work of judges presiding over their own courtrooms, writing that “while our history books have not celebrated their role, it is their actions that have secured our freedom and privacy, promoted economic growth, and protected the rights of our most vulnerable citizens.”
He pointed to the judiciary’s $5 billion budget—a 4% increase from last year—and noted new efforts to increase court access through online services and modernizing courtrooms.
The report also touched upon the national debate surrounding immigration and emphasized the courts’ role in adjudicating cases through “principled and impartial decision makers.”
Although Roberts’ annual report contained no reference to the Supreme Court’s internal issues, his leadership has been cited by members of the court as a source of stability. Roberts has emphasized the importance of civility and respect among judges, and has praised the justices for focusing on their constitutional duties instead of political considerations.