January 1st, 2009
08:09 AM ET
14 years ago

Chief justice pleads for higher judicial salaries

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/12/31/scotus.pay/art.john.roberts.gi.jpg caption="Chief Justice John Roberts says federal judges were denied cost-of-living allowances."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts renewed his call for higher judicial pay on Wednesday, warning of long-term damage to the fabric of the courts.

In his annual year-end report, Roberts noted judges' salaries have declined over the past two decades when measured against inflation, causing many judges to leave the bench for more lucrative jobs in the private sector.

Roberts, 53, and other judges have said a crisis in the administration of justice could result if the bench cannot attract "judges who are the best of the best."

"I must renew the judiciary's modest petition: Simply provide cost-of-living increases that have been unfairly denied," wrote Roberts. "We have done our part - it is long past time for Congress to do its."

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Filed under: Supreme Court
soundoff (101 Responses)
  1. Brad

    I didn't get a raise this year, you don't. Sign of the times. Live with it.

    January 1, 2009 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  2. mARGE

    He is lucky he has a salary at all. Look at the millions of Americans who are jobless because of the politics of the MAN who appointed this guy to a life job.

    January 1, 2009 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  3. James

    These are tough times for everyone and this is not the time for raises, however if this increase in salery is so badly needed, I think we should adapt and apply the conditions of the auto bailout to the raises of these judges. 1. They must get parity with justices of other countries that are better judges and more productive
    2. They need to make the same money as judges from other countries.
    3. They need to pay into social security.
    4. They need to pay for part of their health care.
    5. They need to give up some vacation time.
    6. They need a justice "Zar" to watch over

    January 1, 2009 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  4. Sean Ahern

    Let's see: The Supreme Court Meets 9 months of the year and the clerks do all the heavy lifting? Why do these or any Federal judges need more money? They are appointed for life and suck at the public teat of benefits until they tire of it, are impeached or die. We need MORE judges to handle the case loads (especially bankruptcy courts) but there are PLENTY of people waiting in line for these cushy positions on the well padded bench.

    January 1, 2009 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  5. Tim Duplanty

    Dont these idiots know were in a recession?. They knew what the pay was when they took the job. The only reason their there is to get there names in the history books.. They should not be able to go to the private sector and make all that money either. Thats whats wrong with Lawyers there money grubbin pigs who care not about there clients but how much money they can make.

    January 1, 2009 09:45 am at 9:45 am |

    Sit down and STFU!

    January 1, 2009 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  7. Ray Fisher

    Our entire governent must be reviewed for pay and effectiveness which I'm certain President Obama has included in his agenda. Everyone simply wants priorities on their unique issues yet the priority must be upon America first and petty little pay raises can wait. Although our "Do Nothing" Congress voted themselves a pay raise our government as a whole has not been deserving of even the pay they are now receiving much less a raise!!! Why must anyone insist upon priorities for their agendas when America is failing in all areas and in debt to our necks??? It infuriates me that while these people have been muted for the past 8 years, suddenly they are issuing demands which could severly cripple our new President before he can even take office!!! Be patient everyone as we will all go bancrupt together, no rush!!!

    January 1, 2009 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  8. Notnek

    If the pay was not up to Roberts standards , why did he want the job?? The country is tanking and the elite keep wanting more.

    January 1, 2009 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  9. Charles L. Shaw

    This is a public service job, not a place to look for competitive salaries with the privite sector.
    Every branch of the Government needs to accept the one third wage cut, they expect the autoworkers to take.
    Or better yet work for a dollar a year....Like the failed executives of Wall Street.

    January 1, 2009 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  10. Charlie in Maine

    I would vote for doubling their salaries but only if they PROMISED to stay out of elections. This branch of government cost us dearly in 2000. We will be paying for their intervention for some time.

    January 1, 2009 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  11. joe smith

    everybody deserves fair compansation; now how is it that a feared hamas leader can be taken out so easily, but we can not find bin-laden..

    January 1, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  12. marianne

    Congress keeps giving themselves increases, but the federal judges I know haven't gotten any increases in YEARS, and that includes the cost-of-living increase that all other federal workers get. I new lawyer just out of law school now makes more than a sitting federal judge. We are going to end up with no honorable judges because of this salary situation.

    President-Elect Obama needs to look at this and help the federal judges.

    January 1, 2009 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  13. annoymous-sc

    I know the judges in sc municipal & circuit judges make a very good salary for the number of hours that they work...most come & leave work when they want & report to no one....they are appointed & feel it is their job until they want to seek other jobs or retire....most are attorneys who are too lazy to have their own practice & reap the benefits of the government & love being in POWER....I don't know of any who needs a raise.....

    January 1, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  14. John

    Screw you judge, why don't you go to the private sector, YOU GREEDY BASTARD

    January 1, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  15. Va. Boomer

    and again..., what are those salary ranges now?
    Sorry..., first off..., bad time to bring this up in the economy when most people are out of a job.

    Secondly, most judges are bringing home 6 figures anyhow, that are twice the amount that a lot of people make even when they are working.

    If they are so unhappy about the pay, I suggest that they resign from the bench and go into private practice where they could possibly make more, however, you will not see that happen do to the fact, that it is not so much about the money (while important), it is about the power of the position and the perks that come with it.
    It's a power thing, not a money thing. You could cut their salaries by $25,000, and I bet you that not even 1% would resign.
    Hey Roberts, why don't you be the first to show these people you mean business with this pay raise. If they don't give it to you..., tell them you will resign. That should show them you moron!

    January 1, 2009 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  16. Steve

    Nonsense. There will always be more lucrative positions for these people in the private sector. Millionaires and their ilk should really not whine about their pay, especially when so many Americans are out of work.

    January 1, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  17. (Former) Lifelong Republican for Obama, Columbia, TN

    I agree with Chief Justice Roberts. I think judges are terribly underpaid considering the work they have to do.

    January 1, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  18. Donna

    If judiciary employees should get cost of living raises, so should teachers. My daughter, a high school senior, would make a great calculus teacher, but I am encouraging her to go into engineering because as a teacher I have not been getting cost of living raises for several years now.

    And I would suspect there are other professions that could say the same.

    January 1, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  19. shelby

    I think working for the federal govt is sometimes called public service. How much do these people make? Is it in the 6 figures? This reminds me of Tom Ridge who quit his post as Homeland Security boss, saying he needed more money to put his two kids through college. Hello-so do the rest of us!

    January 1, 2009 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  20. Apples for sale

    Im for raising their pay, if he is all we can get for our money.Hes an educated moron.Let him leave and go to k-street where he belongs and make some money taking payoffs and selling out the American people.

    January 1, 2009 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  21. Jeff - Austin, TX

    Since the federal judges are employees of the government, as are senators, representatives, etc., they deserve the same cost of living increase that any other federal employee will receive. This raise has nothing to do with politics but rather with fairness. If such raises were based on job performance, then I would have to say that the judges would be deserving of such raises but members of Congress would have to take a cut in pay equal to at least 2/3 of their salaries.

    January 1, 2009 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  22. Rosa, b'ham al

    Please, you cannot be serious. With unemployment on the rise, worker salaries stagnant you want to give judges even more money. I don't think now is the time to be whining about this, maybe in 20 years when we recover from this economic fiasco.

    January 1, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  23. ml - California

    This current government stinks! It is all about Pelosi, Reid, bailouts on taxpayer money and GREED! The Supreme Court should have an increase, SO WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?
    Here is hoping that Obama will be able to control Congress's aggressiveness in THE WRONG DIRECTION!!!

    January 1, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  24. I love Kool Aid

    I'll tell ya what Mr.Justice.....

    Start doing your job and we'll start paying you for doing your job.

    There are ALOT of Felons running FREE in our country right now...

    In fact there are felons RUNNING our country right now...

    Where's the justice?

    January 1, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  25. Jeffer65

    What do they make now?

    January 1, 2009 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
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