Regulatory Watchdogs

Center for Regulatory Effectiveness

Greenpeace International
Public Citizen
Sierra Club

Center for Auto Safety
Center for Science in the Public Interest
Clean Air Trust
Corporate Library
Environmental Defense
Environmental Media Services
FM Watch
Friends of the Earth
PR Watch
U.S. Public Interest Research Groups


Just Pay Needed to Preserve the American Way
“Between December 19 and January 8 there are 32 college bowl games–but only one Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary.” Chief Justice Roberts’ report on the Federal Judiciary may receive slightly less attention then certain sporting events but it is related to football and everything else that makes America great. Without trained, dedicated referees, football games produce rather unsatisfactory results. Judges, who don’t have the luxury of watching interminable “instant” replays, are required to evaluate far more complex and crucial issues involving every facet of society. In short, the quality of American life is directly tied to the quality of our judicial system.

Justice Roberts focuses the Report on a single issue, the decline in real judicial pay that “has now reached the level of a constitutional crisis that threatens to undermine the strength and independence of the federal judiciary.”

Adjusted for inflation, judicial pay has declined by 24% since 1969. Meanwhile, average real worker’s wages have risen 18% during the same period. The decline in judicial pay limits the pool of potential appointees to the bench to either the wealthy or those for whom the bench means a raise. Many supremely talented legal scholars and practitioners are effectively excluded from the bench by the counterproductively low salary.

The Report cites late Chief Justice Rehnquist’s observation that “federal judges willingly make a number of sacrifices as a part of judicial life. They accept difficult work, public criticism, even threats to personal safety. Federal not expect to receive salaries commensurate with what they could easily earn in private practice. They can rightly expect, however, to be treated more fairly than they have been. ... the time is ripe for our Nation‘s judges to receive a substantial salary increase.”

The Chief Justice also quotes Alexander Hamilton’s recognition that “[t]he independence of the judges once destroyed, the constitution is gone, it is a dead letter; it is a vapor which the breath of faction in a moment may dissipate.”

Not only do judges deserve a significant pay increase, the American public deserves judges who are appropriately compensated because it is the public who pay the real price for Congress’ parsimonious approach to judicial pay. It’s time the American people demand that Congress provide justice; justice for judges and justice for everyone.

See 2006 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary

See Raise Judicial Pay

See Fair Judicial Pay: Not A Dead Horse

CRE Homepage