Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Is judicial pay a "constitutional crisis?''

From Mark Sherman at The Guardian Unlimited

The current salary level for judges "is insufficient to attract the finest members" of the legal profession to accept appointments to the bench, Kennedy said during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Federal district court judges are paid $165,200 annually; appeals court judges make $175,100; associate justices of the Supreme Court earn $203,000; the chief justice gets $212,100.

Those figures are far less than what lawyers at private firms earn. District judges are paid about half that of deans and senior law professors at top schools.

Kennedy said that "$160,000 sounds like a lot of money to the average American, and it is. But it is insufficient to attract the finest members of the practicing bar to the bench."

"And who says the highest paid person is always the most qualified person?" asks Tony Phyrillas from The Mercury...
If Roberts and Kennedy agreed to serve on the Supreme Court because they were expecting a big payday, they are fools. Whatever happened to the concept of public service? Nobody held a gun to Roberts and Kennedy and forced them to join the Supreme Court.

Roberts and Kennedy knew what the salary was when they accepted their current positions. They also knew that they would have lifetime tenure and an opportunity to create a legacy for themselves. (And annual financial disclosures show that most of the justices on the Supreme Court have net worths of more than $1 million.)

If Roberts and Kennedy think they can make more money in the private sector, then by all means, they should resign from the court today and join a corporate law firm.

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