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December 12, 2008



The COLA raises a chicken and egg question - does the COLA offset inflation, or is it really the cause of inflation?
It is now time for the Government to take the lead and reexamine the underlying economic philosophy to determine the real benefits or detriments of the COLA.


It seems to me that several previous commentators are missing the point. The "pay raise" for judges merely was the same percentage adjustment that Congress allowed itself and senior government employees (inlcuding ALJs). It was not even close to the percentage increase being received by Federal GS and other employees when locality pay is considered. Furthermore, as someone who has practiced in the Federal area for over 30 years, I can attest to the fact that the remarks about the quality of Federal judges were ignorant.

Brian Davis

I'm sorry, but federal judge pay is fair where it is. Corporate in-house and corporate law firm pay are out of whack. Should be interesting times ahead.


I am tired of hearing federal judges complain that they need pay raises all the time to attract the best and brightest to the bench.

As an initial matter they are not the best and the brightest.

If they did not want the lifetime appointment and the lifetime salary that goes along with it they should not have taken the job.

It is perhaps one of the reasons we should appoint persons who are a bit older than 35 to the bench so that they have already made their fortune in private practice.

Don't forget that they are still in the top 1 or 2 percent of pay and still make more than the overwhelming majority of the legal profession.

If appears that they have been comparing their pay with that earned by Skadden or Cravath associates or partners.

I have yet to see a federal judge work nearly as hard as those associates or partners.

Perhaps the better comparison would be to Attorneys in the Manhattan DA's office or the LA DA's office and I can assure you that they make substantially more than those attorneys do.


I mean, I get that when federal judges take the bench, they take prestige and service over money. But first-year associates now make more than Circuit Judges and (if you include bonuses) almost as much as Supreme Court Justices. (The first-years made about the same as Justices last year, but bonuses have dropped due to the economic downturn.)

Nobody's arguing that they should eliminate compensation for new Article III judges and all Article I judges. Rather, everyone seems to agree that we should pay them something. And the real question is "what?" Perhaps you can make the case that they make enough now, but the opponents of judicial pay increases never argue that. They just say less is better.

(This is akin to the Republicans' lower-taxes-mean-higher-revenue argument, which Democrats rightly reject out of hand because it means that a marginal tax of zero would yield the most revenue.)


There is no justification for singling out members of the federal judiciary for this disadvantage. Don't people know that they are some of the hardest-working federal employees we have? It would be a great pity to lose the expertise of these jurists because of politics.

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