The Chief Justice as Advocate-in-Chief

By Vining, Richard L.; Wilhelm, Teena | Judicature, May/June 2012 | Go to article overview

The Chief Justice as Advocate-in-Chief


Vining, Richard L., Wilhelm, Teena, Judicature


Examining the Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary

Reviewing Roberts'record as an agent of judicial reform.

On December 31, 2009, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., released the 2009 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary. For the first time in the history ofthis address, itincluded no requests for judicial improvements. Instead, Roberts acknowledged the public's hardship during economic recession and only mentioned that "critical needs of the judiciary.... remain to be addressed." Journalists regarded the paucity of proposals in the yearend report as unusual1 and remarked that Roberts had "abandoned" standard practices by chief justices2 and "left many people scratching their heads."3 If these journalists are correct, to what extent did Roberts depart from tradition? Our understanding of the chief justice as an advocate for judicial improvements is limited. No systematic assessment of the year-end report or its content has been conducted, nor have scholars examined whether its content changes over time. In addition, there is no evidence to suggest whether goals outlined in year-end reports are likely to be achieved. These observations prompt two interesting empirical questions. First, what judicial improvements reach the agenda of the chief justice? Second, to what degree do chief justices achieve the enactment of items on their reform agendas?

In this paper we examine the Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary, the key agenda-setting tool of the chief justice. In doing so, we examine the role of the chief justice as the most visible advocate for judicial reform. We review the history of the Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary and describe the evolution of the administrative leadership of the chief justice. We then analyze the content of year-end reports from 1970 to 2011 and summarize agendas over time and by chief justice. Finally, we discuss which proposals were enacted in the year following their inclusion in the year-end report.

The Chief Justice and improvements in the Federal Courts

The chief justice is the most prestigious judge in America. He has the bully pulpit associated with the office, is the leader of the Judicial Conference of the United States, and selects key appointees at the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts and Federal Judicial Center.4 The chief justice has more than 80 responsibilities mandated by federal statutes.5 One result of the many roles fulfilled by the chief justice is that he is the most visible advocate for federal court improvements.

The Chief Justice as Communicator and Agenda-setter

The leadership of the chief justice is noteworthy both within and outside his court. He serves an important function as head of the federal judiciary, specifically with regard to judicial improvements. Mark W. Cannon, the former administrative assistant to Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, emphasized the leadership of the chief justice in judicial reform;

Because of the typical low visibility of judicial improvement issues and the lack of support from powerful interest groups and electoral constituencies, few reforms in the administration of the federal court system have been effected in the absence of a chief justice who has been willing to use the status of the office to dramatize and promote the issues.'

Burger argued that "[s]omeone must make these problems real to the busy members of Congress overwhelmed as they are with a host of other more visible problems - pressed on them by skillful lobbyists".7 He explained that they must be "pressed forward by someone" with "[a] sense of urgency - to arouse the public and the legai profession to the advanced state of obsolescence of many parts of the judicial machinery." An important tool available to the chief justice is the Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary. In the following sections we discuss its origins, purpose, and content.

The Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary

The Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary is released atthe end of each year and is analogous to the president's State of the Union Address. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Chief Justice as Advocate-in-Chief
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.