As U.S. Supreme Court’s workload drops, justices seek hefty budget increase to include 24-hour private security

u.s. supreme court
U.S. Supreme Court
The U.S. Supreme Court. Seated from left are Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John Roberts, Samuel A. Alito and Elena Kagan. Standing from left are Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh, and Ketanji Brown Jackson. Photo: Fred Schilling, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

By Dan Christensen,

While it’s gone largely unnoticed by the national media, the U.S. Supreme Court’s workload fell again with a sharp 22 percent decrease in the number of cases filed in the court’s paid docket – even as Chief Justice John Roberts is asking Congress for a 22 percent increase in the court’s budget, to $140 million.

That large case drop at the high court – from 1,612 filings in the 2021 term to 1,252 filings in the 2022 term – was disclosed earlier this month in Roberts’ annual year-end report on the federal judiciary. It comes as survey after survey has found that the public’s confidence in the court has plummeted significantly since it discarded the constitutional right to abortion in January 2022 and the eruption of high-profile ethical controversies involving five of the nine justices.

“Confidence in the high court to render fair decisions is wavering. Lawyers are advising their clients not to seek Supreme Court review,” said Washington, D.C. lawyer Brett Kappel, an expert on campaign finance, lobbying and government ethics laws.

The total number of cases filed in the Supreme Court slipped 15 percent from 4,900 filings in the 2021 term to 4,159 in the 2022 term, Roberts’ report says. That total includes cases from both the court’s paid docket – cases where a party pays a filing fee – and in forma pauperis, or indigent docket, where cases brought by public defenders and prisoners are recorded.

Brett Kappel

The decline reported for 2022 marked the second consecutive downturn in paid cases at the Supreme Court. Roberts’ annual reports note the decrease in 2021 was 12 percent. The year before, the number of paid cases rose 24 percent to 1,830.


The court’s request for a big funding boost includes $5.9 million “to expand Supreme Court Police activities to protect the Justices.” [The federal government is operating under two continuing resolutions that extend government funding deadlines until early March.]

According to the 2024 Congressional Budget Summary prepared by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, the justices now require round-the-clock protection that will need to be provided by private security.

“Ongoing threat assessment show evolving risks that require continuous protection. Additional funding would provide for contract positions, eventually transitioning to full-time employees, that will augment capabilities of the Supreme Court police force and allow it to accomplish its protective mission,” the summary says.

Who might the high court hire to provide them, and possibly their family members, security at their homes and while traveling? Don’t ask the justices. The federal courts aren’t bound by the Freedom of Information Act and are notorious for a lack of transparency regarding many expenditures. One notable exception: court construction, whose contracts are public because they are handled by the General Services Administration.

Two Washington-area firms would seem to be front-runners for providing security for the justices, with one holding a significant edge.

Constellis, which describes itself as “a leading provider of essential risk management and mission support services to government and commercial clients worldwide,” began life in 1960 in Coral Gables as a government contracting subsidiary of The Wackenhut Corporation.

Following decades of mergers, acquisitions, name changes and changes in ownership – including the assimilation of the notorious private military contractor Blackwater a decade ago – Constellis has become a behemoth in the private security services industry. Last February, it announced it had picked up “nearly $5B in contract awards in the preceding 12 months” from the U.S. departments of Energy, State, Defense, Homeland Security, Justice and the “Intelligence Community.”


While synergies that might arise from Constellis’ unique business relationships could cause apprehension about its also controlling security for the justices, the leading corporate candidate for such contracting work would appear to be the smaller, but better positioned The Chertoff Group.

U.S. Supreme Court
Michael Chertoff

Founded and run by former U.S. appeals court judge and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, The Chertoff Group has been Chief Justice Roberts’ go-to security consultant since 2018, as the nation learned last year in the wake of the embarrassing 2022 leak of the draft opinion in Dobbs v Jackson, the decision that overturned 50 years of precedent on the legality of abortion by overruling Roe v Wade.

When Roberts issued a statement about its leak investigation, he disclosed that the court had consulted Chertoff to review its internal probe for sufficiency. Congress, led by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI, and Rep. Henry “Hank” Johnson, D-GA, then asked Chertoff about his relationship with the justices. Chertoff replied that his firm had advised the court “on a variety of matters related to protecting the Justices, including at their homes and while traveling.”

“I believe our firm has become a trusted security advisor who understands the Court’s practices, operations, and culture stemming from our engagement since our support began in 2018,” Chertoff wrote. “Chief Justice Roberts advised us that he believed we were a logical choice to perform the assessment.”

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Latest comments

  • Sob, the poor Supreme Court millionaire justices need more money? Why not tap their rich super donors who lend them money they don’t have to repay, fly justices around on private jets to lavish vacations, buy home homes for their elderly parents, give them vehicles at below cost with free financing including half million dollar Rvs, and send them “personal gifts” that they don’t have to report because they are personal “friends” and the Supreme Court has NO Office of Inspector General to provide oversight.
    And when it comes to hearing cases involving companies these rich personal friends are associated with, no problem, these justices need NOT recuse themselves nor even disclose their association with the rich donors, because again, the Supreme Court has no such disclosure reporting requirements unlike any other court or government legislature. NO supreme court justice has ever completed a COI report:
    There is no SUNSHINE in the Supreme Court, only the dark workings of the ultra conservative anti democracy Heritage Foundation. So us taxpayers should REWARD them with millions more? F those lying SOBs.

  • $140 million is only $0.41 per capita to fund SCOTUS, which establishes legal precedent that binds or guides all federal and state courts and runs 1 of 3 Branches of government w/a $9.1 billion budget is CHEAP.

  • Americans need protection from the SC. The damage done by them over the past few years is shocking! Let’s start with the removal of criminal, c. thomas who has never seen a dollar he would not like to pocket.

  • Perhaps decisions that reflect the Constitution and the welfare of We The People would bring back confidence in the Court and reduce security needs.

  • The identity of the Dobbs decision leaker is an open secret in Washington, D.C. That this person has not been arrested, stripped of his/her law license, and prosecuted, that hundreds of protesters were allowed to march and bang drums in front of the justices’ homes for months in violation of federal law, and that Chuck Schumer wasn’t sanctioned for standing in front of the Supreme Court building and threatening the justices with physical violence has done more to put the justices in danger than at any time in the history of the Court. Even after an armed assassin showed up at Justice Kavanaugh’s home with the intention of killing him and his family, the attorney general refused to enforce the law. The Court continues to be targeted by political activists and nutcases with impunity.

    The Democrat leadership is trying to delegitimatize this court for one reason and one reason only, they have lost their liberal majority. This is the party that is constantly fear-mongering about our “democracy” being in jeopardy. We are not a democracy, we are a democratic repuplic. This distinction is important and speaks to the heart of what makes the difference between the U.S. and Venezuela. States rights. Citizens in the states get to make the law on abortion, not 9 unelected, justices-for-life.) When Democrats have the majority, the sky-is-falling alarmism ceases. If a member of this Court is physically assault or killed, all hell will break loose. We are going down the wrong road.

  • We need to completely cut their budget, not boost it. If they want to enact policies that go against what the majority want, they can fucking protect themselves. They are here to serve the people, not the other way around. When they lose sight of that, they can go fark themselves along with their “budget”.

    Useless bitches.

  • Well the POS governor desantis just dropped out of the race. Maybe now he’ll return to florida and get rid of that equally sized POS Greg toney. The stench is overwhelming.

  • Scott Hilton has it right! Screw them.

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