Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts thinks federal judges deserve more money, and in a year-end 2005 report urged Congress to give them a raise.
Roberts’ concern is that many judges are leaving the bench and qualified lawyers are staying away from the bench because the pay isn’t competitive with private law practice.
Stated Roberts, "If Congress gave judges a raise of 30 percent tomorrow, judges would – after adjusting for inflation – be making about what judges made in 1969. This is not fair to our nation's federal judges and should not be allowed to continue."
Mind you, Roberts is asking this of the same Congress that continues to vote itself pay raises while steadfastly refusing to raise the federal minimum wage above its 1997 level of $5.15 per hour.
For a 40-hour work week, $5.15 per hour translates to about $10,712.00 per year. That’s right around poverty level in most states.
Members of Congress, meanwhile, typically earn a minimum of $158,100 per year.
And those long-suffering federal judges in their tattered robes make upwards of $160,000 per year.
Before Congress gives federal judges, themselves or any six-figure salaried officials another cent, they should first give the ordinary $10 grand-a-year guy a pay increase.
Using Roberts’ “then vs. now” example, Congress could simply compare the difference in the price of gas between 1997 and today to see that those poverty level workers have actually taken a pay cut.
As for Roberts’ rationale that a salary increase is necessary to keep good judges on the bench, I humbly (and futilely) suggest that no one go into public service for the money.
Too many people pursue public office to line their pockets, and that’s why lobbyist scandals involving Congress will keep myself, the rest of the blogosphere and the mainstream media typing away throughout 2006.