Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has called on Congress to increase the budgets of the federal judiciary, saying a shortage of money "remains the single most important issue facing the courts."

"I would like to choose a fresher topic, but duty calls," said Roberts in his annual year-end report.

He added that failing to adequately fund the federal judiciary "undermines the public’s confidence in all three branches of government."

While the court system is an independent branch of the federal government, it relies on funding from Congress. Court officials on Dec. 5 asked Congress to allocate $7.04 billion for the judiciary for the rest of the 2014 fiscal year, which runs through September. That is less than two-tenths of 1 percent of total federal outlays.

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