Skip to comments.Federal Judges Sue to Win Promised Pay Increases
Posted on 12/14/2012 11:17:54 AM PST by Jacquerie
WASHINGTON (AP) -- With the nation teetering on an economic "fiscal cliff," federal judges may soon force Congress to dedicate possibly millions of dollars to what some of those same judges must consider a worthy cause: their own salaries.
Congress in 1989 limited federal judges' ability to earn money outside of their work on the bench and in exchange provided what was supposed to be automatic cost-of-living increases to judicial salaries to ensure inflation wouldn't erode the value of those salaries over time.
U.S. District Judge Royal Furgeson Jr. of Texas, one of the judges seeking class-action status, called that a "binding commitment" made by the legislative branch for the judicial branch to "receive the same yearly COLAs awarded to all other federal employees, to keep us even with inflation."
But instead of following through, Congress withheld those cost-of-living increases in 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2007 and 2010, while giving other federal employees their promised increases. "In our view, the exclusion is contrary to the commitment to us, so we have sued to enforce it," said Furgeson, a senior judge who also serves as the president of the Federal Judges Association.
(Excerpt) Read more at hosted.ap.org ...
We have to drop this nonsense about legislatures making contracts with people. No, they pass laws. It isn’t even the same Congress, and it’s perverse to pretend like it is. There’s no reason why one Congress should get to tie a future Congress’s hands. Especially not only for employment contracts. Why should that be the one area in which legislatures can’t reverse previous ones? Aside from the special esteem government workers feel for their own work.
Just to add a little accuracy to the reporting, all Federal Employees are in the third year of a pay freeze. I am not saying that shouldn’t be so, or that federal employees are not (in some or even many cases) overpaid. I am just saying that salaries are not on “autopilot”.
Sounds like they’re copying NJ judges. The legislature passed a law that all state employees had to pay a percentage of their health care premium, with the percentage increasing as an employee’s salary increased. A judge promptly filed a lawsuit, claiming that the state constitution wouldn’t allow the legislature to reduce judges’ salaries & such a health care percentage increase was an illegal reduction. Of course the appellate & supreme court divisions upheld his lawsuit. Fortunately, a state legislator got a constitutional modification on the ballot allowing such “reductions” and the voters passed it.
We’re waiting for the judges to rule that modification as unconstitutional as well.
Bingo. The next Congress is independent from this Congress. Which is exactly why any promise of future spending reductions is no promise at all because today's Congress cannot compel action in the next Congress.
...so a bunch of judges are going to go and ask a sitting judge to decide whether or not judges should get pay raises?
Gee - I wonder if the judges will win that....
Why on earth would the NJ constitution forbid reducing judges salaries? Aside from the power of the government employee lobby and constituency, I mean. Or have I answered my own question?
Were step/longevity increases frozen as well?
Well said. If they don’t like their salary and benefits they should resign. There’s no shortage of lawyers to replace them.
There’s an easy way to explain how bad this is to libs. The government employee faction ain’t listen, but screw them. Tell them to imagine the Patriot Act or the ‘01 tax cuts were ruled a contract with or a “binding commitment” to the American people, and that today’s Congress has no authority to vote them down. Then watch steam blow out of their ears.
The person who graduates at the bottom of his medical school class is called “Doctor”. What’s the person who graduates at the bottm of his law school class called?
And the senate hasn’t passed a budget in three years. Just sayin’.
A possible answer? Under a system of checks and balances, a judicial branch is supposed to be a check on both the legislative and executive branches.
It's hard for the judicial branch to be a check on the legislative branch if the legislative branch can reduce judicial salaries each time the legislative branch disagrees with a judicial opinion.
Judges should have term limits to avoid corruption.
Federal judges have the biggest taxpayer-subsidized gig going. They have a job with enormous power and prestige, taxpayer-subsidized junkets to annual, lavish “judicial conferences” where they can hobnob with their “guests” (usually lawyers who practice in their courts), no personal office overhead, and no personal liability. But, the best comes at retirement: without having to contribute to a pension plan or worry about the risks associated with investing, they get their full salary upon retirement. Think about the value of that over the course of a judgeship: a risk-free, no cost, 100% guaranteed lifetime salary. And, we foot the bill. Yes, they need more of our money.
Agree. All politicians should be term limited.