Issue: Compensation for Federal Judges
Some states use the pay schedule for federal judges as a benchmark for the salaries of state court judges.
No formal position
Senator Patrick Leahy introduced the Federal Judicial Salary Restoration Act of 2007 (S 1638) on 6/15/07 to increase the salaries of federal judges and justices of the U.S. Supreme Court.Representative John Conyers (D-MI) introduced similar legislation also called the Federal Judicial Salary Restoration Act of 2007 (HR 3753) on 10/4/07. As introduced, HR 3753 would not only increase the salaries of federal judges and Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, but would also amend Public Law 97-92 (the joint resolution making further continuing appropriations for FY1982), as amended by the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2002, to repeal the prohibition on salary increases for such officials.
The House Judiciary Committee approved an amended HR 3753 on 12/12/07 by a vote of 28-5. The bipartisan compromise amendment, introduced by ranking Republican Lamar Smith (R-TX), reduced salary levels proposed in the original bill. The amended HR 3753 would increase salaries as follows;• District court judge salary from $165,200 to $218,000,• Appellate judge salary from $175,100 to $231,000,• Supreme Court associate justice salary from $203,000 to $267,900, and• The chief justice salary from $212,100 to $279,900.On 12/13/07, the Senate Judiciary Committee amended S 1638 and approved it by a voice vote. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced an amendment that lowered the proposed pay raises from 50 percent to 32 percent and brought the salary levels into compliance with the amended HR 3753.The Senate Judiciary Committee approved S 1638 by a vote of 10-7 on 1/31/08. Salary increases align with HR 3753. S 1638 would also repeal the prohibition on judicial salary increases; increase the case load of senior status judges from 25% to 33% of full-time judges; require the combined age and number of years of judges’ service to reach 84 for them to receive full salary in retirement; decrease the size of pensions by $1 for every $2 of outside income; and place limits on accepting travel, food, and lodging expenses. Senate Report No. 110-277 was published on 4/1/08.On 11/20/08, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) introduced S 3711, which was approved by the Senate the same day by unanimous consent. The legislation would authorize a cost of living adjustment for FY 2009 for justices and judges of the United States.On 1/11/09, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced S 200 to authorize a cost of living adjustment for FY 2009 for justices and judges of the United States. The adjustment is to be made in accordance with section 461 of title 28, United States Code.