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. Tony Scribner

    Typical goverment suck-fish John Roberts comment.
    The job is easy, the benefits are huge.
    These folks get full pay for life after only 15 years of being on the payroll – Note, I did not say at work, just hanging around will do the trick.
    Don't worry, they won't quit – the perks are too good.
    They would stay on if the pay was one-quarter of what they are getting.

    January 1, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  2. Franky

    Well...he should work in Congress then, LOL!! I'm playing, I'm playing...

    To be fair, I believe there's a whole lot of positions out there who wuld say the same thing. You gotta know what's thriving or not...

    January 1, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  3. SAGG

    Yes, good point, Shelby. I'm curious as to know how much federal judges make as well. I'm sure that it's in the six-figure range.

    January 1, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    If a judge is in it for the money, you dont want them being a judge!! The economy is in the crapper. NO RAISES FOR ANYONE!

    January 1, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  5. Darlene D

    You have to be kidding me...do they know how many people don't have a job at all and no prospects. I call this greed at the highest level. Let them leave for the private sector. There are many qualified people to replace them.

    January 1, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  6. Zachery

    Oh, I get it. You should get a raise while the rest of Americans lose their jobs. Do you really think this is the right time to be asking for a raise while so many Americans are losing thier jobs. There are people out there voluntarily taking days off without pay so that their co-workers can keep their job. Your request is pathetic.

    January 1, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  7. PAL

    I couldn't find any other way to contact CNN today. Please look into the Mazer Corporation in Dayton,Ohio. It closed on Tuesday the 30th and did so by emailing its' over 200 employees at 5:15pm. Now the word is out that they are not going to pay all these people their last paycheck nor the money they have held back from these people's first held bvack pay check. Is this legal?

    January 1, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  8. Sherrol in Canada

    Not even cost of living yearly increases for the judges? Come on Congress they too have families. Public service should not equate to unfair wages.

    When was judges last wage increase and when was congress'?

    January 1, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  9. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Sounds to me like Bush promised this mensa something and now won't deliver, eh?!

    January 1, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  10. Sean Ryan

    Lets increase the pay of the police officers, firefighters teachers and other professions that really do something.

    January 1, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  11. jimmy

    It is enough that the Justices have their jobs for life and a sumptuos
    retirement package.

    January 1, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  12. Mark, B'ham., Al.

    Maybe if the corporate and ambulance chasing lawyers were not overpaid like CEO's and Wall Street Brokers then we would be able to get America's best lawyers to be judges?

    January 1, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  13. grandconserve

    Sorry wanker, but your support of extremist ideology has turned the rest of us into paupers and tanks our 401Ks so that we cannot retire until we are all in our 90s. F you. reap what you sow, we do NOT have the money to grant any of you raises from our taxes. In fact, I'd like to see your pensions and your medical coverage halved. You really need to feel the pain of what you have created.

    January 1, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  14. Julianne

    Doesn't he do this every year? For cripes sake.

    January 1, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  15. Gerry in Va. for Obama.

    In several instances, in the court system, it wouldn't make a difference how much money these people were paid, it still wouldn't get the best and/or brightest.

    January 1, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  16. earle,florida

    If you think the pension plans for the auto-workers were obscene ,and the golden parachutes of america's CEO's in the upper stratosphere ,just take alook at what these guys get for "Twenty-Years on the bench,...sheessseee

    January 1, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  17. S Callahan

    Ray has a valid point.
    Our courts (at all levels) need revamping, and politics removed from them to be truely fair. There is an awful level of mistrust towards the courts for a variety of reasons. I do agree they should have a raise in parity to cost of living, like the rest of us. But with any raise the expectation of fairness to the citizens (not political) should be held.

    January 1, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  18. Richard

    I think it is perfectly reasonable to pay the judges a rate which keeps up with inflation... provided they attach it to a bill that does the same for minimum wage workers.

    January 1, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  19. Mari

    Well, Chief Justice Roberts may be right about the need to increase salaries......BUT.......


    (even to the far-right-nuts!)

    January 1, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  20. Larry, Hazleton, Pa

    I must admit I feel very sorry for these poor down in the dup justices – so lets all get together and send them a collection. Can we get real folks they have perks and pay that the rest of the hard working every day people of this country would enjoy having. If they can't live on what they get – then get out!!!! I say the same for congressman and senators to – they should all give back 10-15% in order to start showing some real leadership.

    January 1, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  21. bashing baby seals in Alaska

    I think John needs a raise,six figures doesnt go far enough in todays world.

    January 1, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  22. Steve in Las Vegas,NV

    Not enough?? How about the fact their job can't be outsourced, the perks are great, and their retirement is their full paycheck is for life.

    I don't think it's a hardship to live on a 6 digit paycheck. Just ask anybody who lost their job or had hours cut back..

    January 1, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  23. Brent Scott

    Chief Justice Roberts wishes for higher salaries so he and his right-winged, Bible reading, hate preaching, Rebuplicans can continue the contribution to the downward spiral we have seen fr the past eight years. Hey judge, if youw ant higher pay then why don't you ask that ARROGANT friend of yours, George W. Bush. I am sure his pockets are loaded with the cash from the revenue brought in from this illegal war!

    January 1, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  24. Dan, TX

    What's wrong with a conservative republican government employee wanting government employees getting more pay. After all, we all know republicans support bigger government and using taxpayer money to support the elites. They say they don't, but look at the record.

    January 1, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  25. TW - oregon

    Are there judicial positions that are unfilled??? Don't think so. We do not want those who are in it for the money. What reasonable person can't make it work for $100,000+ salary. We want those committed to service of their country. The best are not those that sell themselves for the highest dollar.

    Do us a favor. Lower the salaries of judges until the truly committed and community minded are the only ones that will fill the positions.

    Do not buy the fiction that the highest dollar buys the best person. Many of us take other rewards besides money. We want judges who take satisfaction of a job well done, justice dispensed, as the truest and highest reward.

    January 1, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
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