As the judiciary waits anxiously for Congress to pass its long-overdue pay raise, law professor Ross Davies at George Mason University has another suggestion: Dun the bar for the money needed to fund the salary increases.
And there's precedent, says Davies, who wrote an article on the subject for the unconventional law review Green Bag (he's the editor-in-chief.) Digging back into historical documents, Davies discovered that in 1871, members of the Supreme Court bar organized the "Taney Fund" to assist two of Chief Justice Roger Taney's daughters, who had fallen on hard times after their father's death in 1864. At the time, Congress was also considering a raise for the judiciary, and Davies offers circumstantial evidence that the Taney Fund's creation was meant as much to impress Congress about the dire straits of judges as it was to help Ellen and Sophia Taney. Ultimately, it appears that the Taney Fund, set up to receive donations from lawyers, was not an overwhelming success, though the salary hike was approved.
But carrying the idea forward, Davies suggests that the American Bar Association, a strong advocate for judicial salary increases, raise its dues for its 400,000 members to cover the estimated $44 million needed to fund the raises for the judiciary. "They can show they are serious about the need for more money," writes Davies. "They can go out and get it or at least publicly promise to do so."