02.01.08

Senate Committee Gives Go Ahead For Judicial Pay Raise

Bill Would Raise Judicial Pay For First Time In Two Decades

WASHINGTON (Friday, Feb. 1, 2008) – The Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday passed legislation to authorize the first significant pay raise for the federal judiciary in almost two decades.  The legislation, sponsored by Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), was introduced last year, and had been the subject of debate in the Committee in December.  The Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives passed a similar measure late last year.

The Administrative Office of the United States Courts notes that when adjusted for inflation the pay rate for federal judges has declined by 25 percent since 1969, while salaries in the private sector have soared.   Last year, Senator Leahy and Senator Specter introduced and passed legislation authorizing cost-of-living adjustments for the salaries of Unites States judges but it languished in the House of Representatives until the measure finally passed as part of the Omnibus appropriations bill. 

“Salaries for federal judges have been in steady decline for decades,” said Leahy.  “To preserve a strong, independent judiciary, we must make judicial salaries competitive.  Our legislation recognizes the important constitutional role judges play in administering justice, interpreting our laws, and providing the ultimate check and balance in our government.  I hope the Senate will act quickly to pass this important legislation.”

 

As part of the Federal Judicial Salary Restoration Act, the Senate Judiciary Committee also voted Thursday to adopt an amendment to limit reimbursements by private entities over $2000 per trip, or $20,000 per annum, for attendance at judicial conferences, educational forums and similar events.  Another amendment was adopted that prohibits judges and justices from receiving gifts of private club memberships valued at more than $50 and increases the transparency of gifts that judges and justices receive. 

 

The legislation would increase pay for federal judges by 29 percent, the same amount passed by the Judiciary Committee in the House of Representatives last year.  It has the support of the American Bar Association, the Vermont Bar Association, and more than 130 of the nation’s top law schools, civil rights groups and other organizations.  The legislation will now move to the full Senate for consideration. 

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