Two influential lawyers’ groups yesterday called for a substantial pay raise for all federal judges to halt what they said is a dangerous erosion in judicial salaries that threatens “the quality and independence” of the federal court system.
At a news conference at the Supreme Court, American Bar Association President Alfred P. Carlton Jr. and Federal Bar Association President Kent S. Hofmeister said an inadequate salary structure has forced some federal judges to leave the bench and is making it more difficult to recruit talented lawyers to serve as judges.
“Few people would willingly stand by and watch the power of their paycheck steadily shrink,” Hofmeister said. “Judges shouldn’t have to do that either.”
Carlton and Hofmeister were joined at the news conference by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, an outspoken advocate of higher judicial salaries, and Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, David H. Souter and Stephen G. Breyer.
Rehnquist said he considers the need to raise judicial salaries to be “the most pressing issue facing the federal judiciary today.”
Breyer said inadequate pay threatens to undermine the diversity of the federal judiciary because many otherwise qualified candidates feel they cannot afford to serve as judges.