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. John

    In this economy? He has just proven, he is an idiot!
    Leave it to Washington to want more money out of a dry pit.
    As long as there is a national debt, government should be baned from pay raises.

    January 1, 2009 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  2. Terry B.

    Gee whiz I don't ever remember a "golden parachute" being part of the deal when one says yes to being on the bench for the Supreme Court of The United States? Hey John, serving your nation and your President does not mean a 7 figure salary. You want to see the money then do us all a favor and resign so that you "can spend more time with your family" while really going into a more lucrative job.... What a dolt...

    January 1, 2009 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  3. texasgreenacres

    it may be they are already over paid? justice Roberts stopped short of mentioning how much they already draw.this tough economic times we're having to bail out banks auto mfg. now he's asking for a raise? Is this our top decision makers? Could it be we need to hire new people here ? How about a lay off? Be thankful justices you've got a position getter than most jobs. So with that as you would tell us with authority. Shut up and enjoy what you have. Stupid begging does not make you look very desirable. SO GET A GRIP AND A LIFE TO GO WITH IT!

    January 1, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  4. pat wilson, laguna beach, ca

    Uh, Mr. Roberts? Everyone has seen their pay decline.........

    January 1, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  5. John H

    With all due respect to Justice Roberts, his argument that low pay won't attact the best of the best is invalid. After all, if the pay is so low, why did HE accept the job? Is he implying he's not the best of the best??

    January 1, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  6. proudliberal-independent

    bs! no gubment 'raises' until the economy is back on track. period. who cares about 'best of best'? try hiring someone committed to public service and not people just looking for the big bucks.

    January 1, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  7. REG in AZ

    Without denying the justification for the request, one has to wonder how with their already substantial compensation they merit more attention or consideration than the average American and all that they are going through. I would think that in an equitable list of priorities the justices' plight might be near the bottom.

    January 1, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  8. AL+

    They deserve every penny, especially when they have too put up with NUT jobs like the guy that doesn't want GOD included in the swearing in of the POTUS.

    January 1, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  9. Terry

    Our public servants deserve a decent wage. Judges are very important to all of us. I agree with Roberts that a raise is needed. What happens if you starve public officials is that the honest office holders find other jobs. The positions are then left open to those who would use the office for personal gain.

    Of course, the anti-tax lunatics all believe that democracy should be a free lunch for them and that they shouldn't be asked to pay the bills for anything.

    January 1, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  10. MaryInNC

    With the economy as it is right now and people who still have jobs trying to hang on to them for dear life, I don't think this is the right time to single out a certain group for raises...maybe you can ask the feds to take some of the bailout money and help yet another group who probably makes more than the average American could ever dream of making.

    January 1, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  11. katiec

    Read your article and could not find what their salaries are??
    They MAY deserve a raise, but 30% seems a little out of line.
    And, do not forget all their perks.

    January 1, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  12. Go rant somewhere else..

    Oh please!!! In these economic times!!?? Give us a break.I think your "need" for higher pay is ridiculous and a "bailout" for those of you who make great money is just nonsense. Don't hold your breath!! Unreal, you are exactly what is wrong with the American downfall economically. Go whine somewhere else.. we are not listening!
    Go try and sell your pathetic petition to someone who has just lost their home, their job and their dignity because of tough times. Just be quiet you are a joke.

    January 1, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  13. ran

    No way no how. If you guys want more money then get another job. I have not had a raise in over 10 yrs. To be pick as a judge and to accept is to be an honor not a way to become rich. It is service to your country. don't accept the job if you don't like the money. Besides you get a lot of perks that the rest of us don't.

    January 1, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  14. Salt & Pepper

    What is a "cost-of-living" increase!? I make ~ $20,000 A YEAR and can live a modest life. Why can't other people do it when they make $50,000 +++!? I have only received ONE raise in 10 years and it is NOT due to my work performance. It is due to the stinginess of the 2 guys who own the business and live in their mansions and drive Hummers and send their kids to college and pay THEIR bills. I work MY a$$ off to keep the company floating and I do not get the high salaries like some of these "rich" people who are always complaining. Cut back on your luxuries!!! It makes me sad to feel people need to live above their means and gripe and complain when there are people out there WITHOUT a home, food, car, ipods etc!!! Cut the crap and reign in your expenses. PEACE 🙂

    January 1, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  15. gman

    Chief Justice, sir, do you sit on the bench to make money or serve the people of this country? If your goal is to make money...maybe you're in the wrong job. To serve on the bench is to have a higher calling and not put people on the bench who thinks it's all about me. By the way...federal judges JUST GOT a pay raise when someone slipped it in the bailout package. I guess that wasn't enough to go Christmas shopping at Target for you.

    January 1, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  16. Seattle Sue

    Does Mr Roberts think that other people's salaries have not declined when measured against inflation? This has happened to a lot of people during the Bush administration. So Mr. Roberts quit your whining, help is coming 1/20/09.

    January 1, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  17. 19 More Days!!

    The article lacks the fundamental details needed: how much do these justices make....what kind of benefits do they receive on top of this base...what type of pension do they receive...?

    How long is the American people going to fall for enormous compensation to keep "the best of the best" while their salaries, jobs and benefits are reduced or disappear?

    PE Obama managed to attract many to his team and cabinet who truly put "country first".

    January 1, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  18. California Gold

    I too work for the government and my salary has not kept pace with inflation. I used to work in the civilian sector and my salary did not keep pace with inflation. See? You can run but you can't hide: everyone is struggling in this economy. If you want more money, if you want to keep up with inflation then you need to go to work for the banking industry. You can work 4 weeks, quit and pocket a $25 million bonus. Yea, they surely can afford another lawyer with judicial connections.

    January 1, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  19. fred

    I will agree with this. Congress is getting higher pay, and so should the judicial branch. Either they both get increases, or they both don't. Congress isn't any more special.

    January 1, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  20. fred

    And he's talking about all judges........not just those on the supreme court, in case you didn't pick up on that.

    January 1, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  21. Meka

    Why not . . . Congress NEVER DENIED THEMSELVES A PAY INCREASE ! ! !

    January 1, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  22. bashing baby seals

    Must be harder for him to take political payoffs now and not get caught.

    January 1, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  23. Steve

    While some personnel in our government are well overpaid for the value they bring to our country (the current president and vice president come to mind first), I don't think it's too much to ask to pay the people at the top of our government what they're worth. These justices, and others like them, share the helm of our country's ship of state. Their work is incredibly complex and the pressure even higher. If we can pay the leaders of a failing banking industry millions of dollars a year to run their industry onto the rocks (thorugh taxpayer bailouts), our trillion+ dollar a year federal budget should be able to cut a few more hundred thousand loose for these judges. Washington DC is an incredibly expensive place to live. These people deserve it. Pay them.

    January 1, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  24. christi

    The same can be said for teachers. But they rarely get anything. Who should we put money into? The people teaching our children or the people sentencing our criminals?

    January 1, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  25. Ken Sawyer

    Some of those jobs in the private sector were being filled by shysters such as the ones running AIG ,the unions and the auto industry. We ,who are not so smart are now paying for their Ivy league swindling.

    January 1, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
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