Are Judges Overpaid?: A Skeptical Response to the Judicial Salary Debate
74 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2007 Last revised: 19 Mar 2009
Date Written: December 2007
Nearly everyone thinks that judges are underpaid, but theory and evidence provide little support for this view. Theory suggests that increasing judicial salaries will improve judicial performance only if judges can be sanctioned for performing inadequately or if the appointments process reliably screens out low-ability candidates. However, federal judges and many state judges cannot be sanctioned, and the reliability of screening processes is open to question. An empirical study of the high court judges of the 50 states provides little evidence that raising salaries would improve judicial performance. The case for a pay raise has not been made.
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