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Support for Pay Increase Comes from Academia and Corporate America
Increase the salaries of federal judges. The general counsels of 60
major U.S. corporations and 130 deans of law schools sent that message
in letters to congressional leaders in February.
"We agree with Chief Justice Roberts that the judicial
compensation situation, dire for years, has reached a crisis point and
that judicial salaries have fallen below any reasonable measure of what
is appropriate," said the letter from the General Counsels. "As the
Chief Justice showed in his recent report," said the deans’ letter,
"although the average U.S. worker’s wages have risen 17.8 percent in
real terms since 1969, federal judicial pay has actually declined 23.9
percent after inflation over the same period."
The two groups agreed with the Chief Justice’s assessment in his 2006 Year End Report on the Federal Judiciary
that "if judicial appointment ceases to be the capstone of a
distinguished career and instead becomes a stepping stone to a lucrative
position in private practice, the Framers’ goal of a truly independent
Judiciary will be placed in serious jeopardy."
"This is a grave problem," the deans wrote, "because our
Judiciary is an essential guardian of our freedom, and we need the most
capable people to serve, without regard to their personal financial
capabilities. . . . If judges expect that they will have to leave the
bench eventually for financial reasons, the independence of the
Judiciary is compromised."
For the General Counsels, the issues of both judicial
quality and independence are of special concern. "Each of our companies
has a significant litigation docket and thus we share a deep interest in
the quality of the civil justice system, both federal and state," they
wrote. "We are vitally interested in a high-quality, neutral and
independent Judiciary," they wrote. "We agree with Chief Justice Roberts
that failing to restore judicial salaries to an appropriate level
threatens the administration of justice by undercutting the quality and
diversity of candidates drawn to and retained on the bench." The letter
went on to urge Congress to decouple congressional and judicial salaries
and significantly increase judicial salaries.
Both letters can be read on-line at http://www.uscourts.gov/newsroom/DeansLetter.pdf