AMERICAN democracy is founded on the rule of law.
The judicial system is the source and substance of that rule.
Yet, all too often, the courts of America are congested, their dockets overcrowded, their judges overworked.
In the Federal district courts, for example, even though we have created more judgeships:
--80,000 civil cases are pending. This is 23 percent more than 5 years ago.
--13,000 criminal cases are pending. This is an increase of more than 10 percent in just 1 year.
The cause of American justice cannot be served: --When a plaintiff must wait years for a court to hear his claim.
--When a criminal case is delayed for a year or more. These problems are familiar to every Chief Executive, to every Governor, to every mayor. Overburdened judicial machinery cannot do the work of democracy.
Today, I sign a bill which, for the first time, will give us an instrument to assure an efficient, smooth-running judiciary--a system equal to the modern and changing society it must serve.
This bill establishes a Federal Judicial Center.
Through that Center we can summon the best experts to survey our problems and recommend solutions. We can make our Federal court system a model for all the courts in all the States and all the cities of America.
The Federal Judicial Center will help improve our courts. But this is part--but only part--of the answer to crime in America.
I would be remiss--as President and as a concerned citizen--if I did not remind Congress that the whole system of criminal justice demands its urgent attention:
--The Safe Streets and Crime Control Act should be a first order of business of the new session. If any single piece of legislation is urgently needed, this is it. It is the most comprehensive anticrime legislation ever introduced. It will help every community strike at crime in the streets.
--The Firearms Control Act is designed to keep guns out of the wrong hands. It will put an end to the scandalous traffic in the deadly weapons of crime.
These and other bills to combat crime-like the Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Act--cry for early passage.
America must act quickly against crime. Continued inaction threatens the pocketbook, the peace, and the people of America.