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Raise Judicial Pay
The signing bonuses for former Supreme Court clerks is now about the same as the salary of Supreme Court justices. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy was quoted as saying that compared with salaries of judges, the fast-rising clerk bonus “devalues the position of the judiciary.”

The problem is not that former clerks earn too much; it is that judges earn too little.

The federal bench is not and should never be viewed as path to wealth. However, a lifetime of public service should also not be a path to penury or a career option only for the financially secure.

In early 2001, the American Bar Association and the Federal Bar Association issued a report explaining that even “though rendering public service and serving in a lifetime appointment are intangible benefits that help compensate for the reduced salary levels associated with the bench, the disparity between judges’ salaries and those of their peers has reached unacceptable levels. Evidence is mounting that the inadequacy of judicial salaries is adversely affecting the government’s ability to attract highly qualified judicial candidates and to retain highly experienced judges.”

Five years after the ABA/FBA report, the problem of low judicial pay has not yet been remedied. If the federal bench cannot attract and keep the best legal minds from all backgrounds and perspectives, the quality of justice will suffer. Low judicial pay is an insult, not to the judges who are free to accept or reject the job, but to the American people.

  • Click here for ABA/FBA Report on Judicial Pay


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