The Federal Judicial Salary Crisis
United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
July 9, 2009
Drexel Law Review, Forthcoming
The federal judiciary is revered in the legal world and stands as a testament to the virtues of our system of justice. Unfortunately, Congress has not treated federal judges with the dignity that they deserve when it comes to salary considerations. Judicial pay has not increased commensurate with that of other federal employees, nor kept up with inflation. Chief Justice Roberts has championed the movement to increase federal judges’ salaries, but thus far, Congress has ignored his calls for reform. This Article argues that the steady erosion of judges’ 'real salaries,' i.e. their salaries once we account for changes in the cost of living due to inflation, will impact the composition of the federal judiciary in three ways: (1) there will be less diversity on the federal bench; (2) more judges will retire once they have attained the requisite age and service requirements; and (3) fewer top legal professionals will seek federal judgeships. Therefore, if Congress does not act quickly to improve judicial pay, the integrity of the federal judiciary is at risk.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 8
Keywords: Judicial, federal judges, federal judiciary, salary, Congress, Ethics Reform Act, pay, erosion, Compensation Clause, Article III, constitutional crisis, Beer v. United States
JEL Classification: K10, K19, K30, K39Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: July 11, 2009 ; Last revised: October 4, 2009
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