Ahead of Tax Day Fix the Court is reminding the American people that one quarter of their federal tax dollars – that’s 25 cents and not one-fourth – will be used by the federal government to pay salaries and expenses at the Supreme Court.
The median U.S. income is close to $59,000 – roughly $11,500 of that is headed to the treasury – and the Supreme Court’s annual budget is just north of $82 million. With total federal revenue slated to reach $3.4 trillion this year, that means taxpayers will be spending 2.4 thousandths of one percent to cover the top of the judicial branch, or close to one quarter per taxpayer.
“It’s astounding to think that the Supreme Court plays such an outsized role in our lives yet comes at such a bargain price for American taxpayers,” Fix the Court executive director Gabe Roth said. “The ironic thing, of course, is that each year the justices ask for more money from Congress with which to run their institution, yet they don’t seem to believe that increased accountability should accompany steady increases in funding. We strongly disagree with that sentiment.”
Fix the Court has released an analysis of how much it would cost to implement a number of pro-transparency reforms at the high court. (We even called the firm that installed cameras in the House and Senate Office Buildings for pricing but then concluded that the walk-through needed to get an accurate estimate at the Supreme Court was not in the cards.)
FTC found that for about three percent its $2.8 million budget increase from FY17 to FY18, the high court could implement a software-based conflict-check system ($50,000), create blind trusts for the three justices with stock ownership ($36,600), place all justices’ annual financial disclosures online ($57.29-$107.37) and upload audio files of oral arguments to SupremeCourt.gov the same day a case is heard ($0).
To read more about how the Supreme Court could spend a minuscule amount of money – albeit more than $0.25 – yet attain a significant increase in transparency, visit this link, http://tinyurl.com/zgdx5oh.