Federal judiciary concerned over salary gap

[JURIST] US federal judges have expressed concern about the salary gap between federal judges and lawyers in the private sector, saying that judges are resigning in greater numbers than ever before due to inadequate pay, USA Today reported Monday. According to the Federal Judicial Pay Increase Fact Sheet [text] from the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, the pay for federal judges when adjusted for inflation has actually declined by nearly 25 percent since 1969, whereas the pay for the average US worker has increased by over 18 percent. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has proposed the Federal Judicial Salary Restoration Act of 2007 [S 1638 text, PDF], which would substantially increase the salary for a federal judge. When introducing the bill in June, Leahy said [PDF text]:

This bill would demonstrate our respect and appreciation for our hardworking Federal judges by authorizing an immediate and substantial increase in judicial salaries. Our bill recognizes the important constitutional role judges play in administering justice, interpreting our laws, and providing the ultimate check and balance in our system of government. It is time Congress treated the Federal judiciary with the respect that a co-equal branch of government deserves.
Opponents, however, argue that the current salary level for federal district judges, which places them in the top 10 percent earning bracket, is adequate and do not believe that the issue will cause any harm to the federal bench.

The Federal Judicial Salary Restoration Act is currently before the Senate Judiciary Committee. It would increase the salary of federal district judges from $165,200 to $247,800 per year in an attempt to close the pay gap between the federal judiciary and their colleagues in private practice. USA Today has more.


 

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