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. Ken Sawyer

    While we are looking at government handouts why not you voters who put Obama in office ask for the same retirement plan and health insurance for life that your congressman have if they can make it one term without going to jail.

    January 1, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  2. Lauren

    No more money for ANYONE who works in Washington.

    No raises,,,

    January 1, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  3. Tab Cocovillea

    Nothing doing. We need more people willing to work for less.

    January 1, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  4. Doug

    The man has an inflated sense of self-importance.

    January 1, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  5. Seth

    Maybe John Roberts and Clarence Thomas should consider resigning.

    Those resignations will drive home the point to the Obama administration.

    January 1, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  6. John -- an attorney in White Plains

    With the amount of responsibility that members of the Federal judiciary have, it would only be appropriate that they receive a pay raise. The justice of the Supreme Court are not only members of the court, but also oversee major responsibilities over the circuit courts as well. They are not gov't peons....they deserve a raise. Unfortunately, this plea to Congress has been going on for years. Hopefully, President Obama will do something about it. The value of the bench clearly outweighs the lucrative practice, with its million dollar bonuses....I am quite sure the judges sleep very well at night...

    January 1, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  7. Joe the Drummer

    What to you idiots think that your CEOs, hell nobody has had their pay keep up with inflation for the past 20 years! wake up and smell the coffee Roberts your not a top 1 percenter!

    January 1, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  8. yellow dog democrat

    How much do they make?? _ i know a raise is always nice – but job security means a lot too – right?

    A lot of folks are being asked to cut back hours and wages just to keep a job – this may be bad timing to ask for more – when so many are doing without and absolutely no security.

    Americans need to have a "living" wage and some kind of health/medical care that keeps them and their children healthy so they can continue to work and be productive.

    January 1, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  9. roger


    January 1, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  10. Texas Teacher

    How much do these Judges make? How about benefits? A teacher's cost of living raise is not enough to cover cost of benefits that keep rising with lowered benefits yearly!

    Everyone acts as though Teachers are riding a gravy train... believe, that is so far from the truth that it is ludicrous! Are the judges riding a gravey train? Could widows possibly be allowed to receive our husband's retirement like every other women do in the private security! I doubt it seriously! I don't think the judges could be doing any worse than Teachers!

    Will someone stick us into a bill as pork barrel? Seriously! I doubt it!

    January 1, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  11. carol

    Higher saleries, they better get a justice system that works for all people and not just the favored few before that ever happens!

    January 1, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  12. Jim

    Why don't you go and look more into this issue, finding out those basic facts before you mindlessly criticize.

    January 1, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  13. Scott

    Give me a raise too!

    January 1, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  14. Anna, Missouri

    Welcome to the real world Judge Roberts! Haven't you heard that everyone is expected to take cuts in their wages? Or is that just for the people that have to shower after work?

    January 1, 2009 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  15. william

    They knew what the job paid. America has so many out of work NO Pay raise. If they think their underpaid quit and work for the auto companys or Wall Street.

    January 1, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  16. Moe, NY

    Sorry Roberts...you will just have to learn to live with less, like the rest of us!

    January 1, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  17. TRUTH

    REPUBLICAN LOSER WHO CARES ONLY about his wrinkled skin

    January 1, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  18. And??

    "In his annual year-end report, Roberts noted judges' salaries have declined over the past two decades when measured against inflation"

    So has everyone elses. Welcome to the club.

    January 1, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  19. ChicagoSuz

    Hmmm... why don't we start with raising the minimum wage. Then, we can worry about the Judges.

    January 1, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  20. TexAnnie *-*-*-*-*

    In his annual year-end report, Roberts noted judges' salaries have declined over the past two decades when measured against inflation...

    Hello?? Does he not think the average American's salary has also declined when measured against inflation??? And most of us sure don't make the kind of annual salary these judges make to begin with.

    Personally, I think there should be a FREEZE on all government salaries (including Congress) until the economy improves- sort of like the private sector where most of us haven't seen a raise in at least a year or more and probably won't see one for at least another year or two.

    January 1, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  21. Ray Fisher

    So we should reward those who say its Constitutional to condemn private property to give to developers??? Why is it suddenly such a rush to throw people out of their homes instead of waiting for the process of inheritance as is tradition??? The courts are like the rest of government, worthless!!!

    January 1, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  22. Sue

    Inflation? What's next? Judges with a six figure income lining up for a handout , bailout whatever you want to call it. I want to know where the average tax payer making $32,000 (if he still has a job) can go for a handout to keep up with inflation. Congress just got a $4700 automatic raise and now I guess every politician is jumping on that bandwagon.

    January 1, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  23. David

    This is a reasonable request. These are very important jobs and they should at least receive a cost of living increase.

    January 1, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  24. Felines for Freedom

    Shelby, I agree in principle its supposed to be public service and they are already making a ton. But the reality is if the positions don't offer salary and benefit packages competitive with all the other opportunities for successful attorneys, Roberts is right: the judiciary will not be able to attract the best and brightest (the least selfish perhaps, but unfortunately all good qualities aren't always wrapped up in one person). Happy new year.

    January 1, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  25. Paul H

    How can anyone in Government ask for more money when the economy is in dire straights. People are loosing jobs, loosing pensions, stock's are down, banks are a mess. And this guy is trying to get more of our taxes in the form of his pay check. Suck it up guys if Americans have to ride this out so do you. If this Vacation taking, do nothing, low approval rated congress gives them a raise Americans need to speak out.

    January 1, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
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