Article

How to Pay the Piper: It's Time to Call Different Tunes for Congressional and Judicial Salaries

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Abstract

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY he 2003 National Commission on the Public Service, chaired by Paul Volcker, called judicial salaries the "most egregious example" of failed federal compensation policies, referenced a "similar crisis" as to executives, and stated flatly that "(f)ew democracies in the world expect so much from their national

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Article
Theory: We extend research on the electoral connection ''beyond'' the modern Congress to the Congress of the early 1800s. Our analysis shows evidence of individual accountability in voting on the Compensation Act of 1816 and in decisions to run for reelection in the 1816 election. Hypotheses: An electoral connection should produce a marginality effect in voting on the Compensation Act (vulnerable legislators less likely to vote yea), and surplus retirements among yea voters. Methods: Logistic regressions with vote on the Compensation Act and retirement decisions as dependent variables. Independent variables are electoral safety, age, party affiliation, and (for the latter regression) vote on the Compensation Act. Results: Electorally vulnerable legislators were less likely to support the Compensation Act. Supporters of that proposal were less likely to seek reelection. Both of these findings are consistent with the existence of an electoral connection, and persist after controls for other factors such as age, party affiliation, and electoral safety.
$7,500 $154,166 $7,000 $143,888 $6,000 $123,333 1914 $152,624 $142,449 $122,099 1915 $151,113 $141,039 $120,890 1916 $140,022 $130,687 $112,018 1917 $119,238 $111,289 $95
  • Paul Dwyer
** As of early April. Congress was considering legislation to permit judges to receive the scheduled annual adjustment. Source for judges' salaries: Judicial Salaries Since 1968, http://www.uscourts.gov/salarychart.pdf and Judicial Salaries, Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, http://www.fjc.gov/public/home.nsf/hisj Source for legislators' salaries: Judicial Salaries Since 1968, cited supra, and Paul Dwyer, "Salaries of Members: A List of Payable Rates and Effective Dates, 1789-2006," Congressional Research Service Report, Order Code 97-1-11 GOV, Updated April 18, 2006. 1913 $7,500 $154,166 $7,000 $143,888 $6,000 $123,333 1914 $152,624 $142,449 $122,099 1915 $151,113 $141,039 $120,890 1916 $140,022 $130,687 $112,018 1917 $119,238 $111,289 $95,390 1918 $101,076 $94,337 $80,861 1919 $88,222 $8,500 $99,985 $7,500 $88,222 1920 $76,312 $86,487 $76,312 1921 $85,265 $96,634 $85,265 1922 $90,848 $102,961 $90,848 1923 $89,254 $101,154 $89,254 1924 $89,254 $101,154 $89,254 1925 $10,000 $116,285 $98,842 $87,214 1926 $114,971 $12,500 $143,714 $10,000 $114,971 1927 $116,953 $146,192 $116,953 1928 $119,005 $148,757 $119,005 1929 $119,005 $148,757 $119,005 1930 $121,856 $152,320 $121,856 1931 $133,881 $167,351 $133,881 1932 $9,000 $133,685 $185,674 $148,539 1933 $140,884 $195,672 $156,538 1934 $136,678 $189,831 $151,865 1935 $10,000 $148,539 $185,674 $148,539 1936 $146,402 $183,003 $146,402 1937 $141,319 $176,648 $141,319 1938 $144,326 $180,407 $144,326 1939 $146,402 $183,003 $146,402 1940 $145,356 $181,696 $145,356 1941 $138,435 $173,043 $138,435 1942 $124,846 $156,058 $124,846 1943 $117,629 $147,037 $117,629 1944 $115,624 $144,531 $115,624
making appropriations for the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary and Related Agencies
P.L. 97-92, §140, Dec. 15, 1981; 95 Stat. 1183, 1200, made permanent in Act of Nov. 28, 2001, making appropriations for the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary and Related Agencies, P.L. 107-77, Title VI, §625; 115 Stat. 748 at 803.
Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Officials: Process for Adjusting Pay and Current Salaries
  • Barbara L Schwemle
Barbara L. Schwemle, "Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Officials: Process for Adjusting Pay and Current Salaries," Congressional Research Service Report RL33245 (February 15, 2007) pp. 2-4.
Commission on Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Salaries: A Historical Summary
  • Sharon S Gressle
Sharon S. Gressle, "Commission on Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Salaries: A Historical Summary," Congressional Research Service Report No. 86-1050 GOV (January 8, 1987) tables 1-5 at pp. 31-42.
Salary Linkage: Members of Congress and Certain Federal Executive and Judicial Officials
  • Barbara L Schwemle
Barbara L. Schwemle, "Salary Linkage: Members of Congress and Certain Federal Executive and Judicial Officials," Congressional Research Service Report RS20388 (Jan. 31, 2007).
Creating the Federal Judicial System esp
  • R Wheeler
  • C Harrison
Act of March 3, 1891, 26 Stat. 826. See in general, R. Wheeler and C. Harrison, Creating the Federal Judicial System esp. (3 rd edition, 2005), especially p. 47.
Salaries of Justices and Judges of United States Courts and Members of Congress, S. 165, S. 462, and S. 540 at 31
  • Cong
Cong., 1st sess., on Salaries of Justices and Judges of United States Courts and Members of Congress, S. 165, S. 462, and S. 540 at 31, January 25 and 28, 1955.
  • Ibid
Ibid, p. 29. 33 "Keep the Federal Courts Special," (editorial) New York Times, Aug. 24, 1980.
Our Government's Most Precious Asset
  • Quality Leadership
Quality Leadership, Our Government's Most Precious Asset, Report of the Commission on Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Salaries (1986) p. 27.
Hearings before the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Administration of Justice of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives
  • Carlos Rep
  • Moorhead
Rep. Carlos Moorhead, "Judicial Independence: Discipline and Conduct," Hearings before the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Administration of Justice of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, 101 st Cong., 1 st sess. on H.R. 1620, HR. 1930, and H.R. 2181 (1989) p. 386.
before the Quadrennial Pay Commission Task Force of the Committee on Post Office and Civil Service, House of Representatives
  • Elmer B Statement Of
  • Staats
Statement of Elmer B. Staats, before the Quadrennial Pay Commission Task Force of the Committee on Post Office and Civil Service, House of Representatives, February 18, 1981, pp. 6-7 (on file with authors).
Figure shown for 2007 is an estimate for 2006, provided by the Office of the Actuary, Social Security Administration, to the General Counsel's office of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, and provided to us by that office
Computed from the Social Security Administration's National Average Wage Indexing Series, available at http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/COLA/awiseries.html. Figure shown for 2007 is an estimate for 2006, provided by the Office of the Actuary, Social Security Administration, to the General Counsel's office of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, and provided to us by that office. 2007 dollars calculated from Bureau of Labor Statistics Inflation Calculator available at http://www.bls.gov/.
Accountants Board Tin Ear Now Golden, The Street
  • Rebecca Byrne
Rebecca Byrne, Accountants Board Tin Ear Now Golden, The Street, Jan. 13 2003 (http://www.thestreet.com/markets/rebeccabyrne/10062297.html) 53 Investor and Capital Markets Fee Relief Act, P.L. 107-123, § 8.
Concerning the Power of Congress to Regulate the Election of Members
The Federalist, esp. No. 59 ("Concerning the Power of Congress to Regulate the Election of Members,") and Nos. 60-61 ("The Same Subject Continued") (Rossiter ed., 1961), pp. 359-374.
The current salary range for state general jurisdiction trial judges is from $94,093 to $168,100. National Center for State Courts
In 2005, forty three states paid legislators $50,000 or less. California was the highest at $110,880. National Conference of State Legislatures, "Legislator Compensation 2005, Updated 2005, Updated Nov. 1, 2005," at http://www.ncsl.org/programs/legismgt/about/05salary.htm. The current salary range for state general jurisdiction trial judges is from $94,093 to $168,100. National Center for State Courts, "Survey of Judicial Salaries," March 1, 2007, available at http://www.ncsconline.org/WC/Publications/KIS_JudComJudSal070106Pub.pdf)
Find a way to up judges' pay; legislature should revive plan for raises
  • John Caher
John Caher, "Pay Raise for N.Y. Judges Gets Boost in Spitzer's First Budget," New York Law Journal, February 1, 2007; "Find a way to up judges' pay; legislature should revive plan for raises" (editorial), Newsday April 4, 2007; "Judges Should Get Raises," (editorial) Star-Ledger (New Jersey), Jan. 3, 2007
States Push for Judicial Pay Raises
  • Amanda Bronstad
Amanda Bronstad, "States Push for Judicial Pay Raises," National Law Journal, March 5, 2007.
Delaware Compensation Commission
Delaware Compensation Commission 2005, Final Report at 8, January 11, 2005.
Health Workers are the biggest losers as Chancellor takes iron grip on pay awards
  • Anthony Brown
  • Jill Sherman
In Great Britain, government salary recommendations for 2007 are £98,900 for district judges, with higher salaries for other judges, and £60,675 (US$119,372) for members of Parliament. Anthony Brown and Jill Sherman, "Health Workers are the biggest losers as Chancellor takes iron grip on pay awards," The Time of London March 2, 2007 at News-11. Conversions as of late March, calculated through http://www.xe.com/ucc/convert.cgi. 71 Information and relevant statutes and implementing instruments are available at http://www.remtribunal.gov.au/judicalRelatedOffices/default.asp?menu=Sec3&switch=on.
Judicial Compensation and Benefits Process
  • Canada Department Of Justice
  • Newsroom Backgrounder
Department of Justice, Canada, Newsroom Backgrounder, "Judicial Compensation and Benefits Process," available at http://www.justice.gc.ca/en/news/nr/2004/doc_31314.html
The prefatory bill summary says that "[s]alaries and allowances will no longer be adjusted by reference to the increase in the annual salary of the Chief Justice . . . but in accordance with the index of the average percentage increase in base-rate wages for each calendar year
See Hansard Debates on Bill C-28, June 5, 2001 at time interval 1505, available at : http://www2.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Language=E&Pub=Hansard&Mode=1&Parl=37 &Ses=1&Doc=72#LINK180 75 Parliament of Canada Act, as amended April 21, 2005, 38 th Parliament, 1 st sess, available at http://www2.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?DocId=2334093&Language=e&Mode=1. The prefatory bill summary says that "[s]alaries and allowances will no longer be adjusted by reference to the increase in the annual salary of the Chief Justice... but in accordance with the index of the average percentage increase in base-rate wages for each calendar year." Legislators declined to set their salaries at even $160,000 (about $142,000 US), half of the salary of the Chief Justice of Canada. Judges Act (RS., 1985, c.J-1, section 9, Act current to Feb. 8, 2007, available at address in supra note 73). See also Greg Weston, "The 20% Solution," The Ottawa Sun, June 18, 2004.
Brian Greenspun on Getting What You Pay For, Even When it Comes to Judges
  • Brian Greenspun
Brian Greenspun, "Brian Greenspun on Getting What You Pay For, Even When it Comes to Judges," Las Vegas Sun, Feb. 25, 2007
Bench Warranted: The Federal Judiciary Deserves a Pay Raise
78 "There Oughta be a Law," (editorial) USA Today, Jan. 9, 2007. Other editorials or op-eds referencing linkage (all 2007): "Is Current Pay Fair? You Be the Judge," Republican (Massachusetts), January 3; "Judges Should Get Raises," Star-Ledger (New Jersey), January 3; "Bench Warranted: The Federal Judiciary Deserves a Pay Raise," Akron Beacon Journal, January 4; "Lagging Judicial Pay," New York Times January 5; "Don't Pay Supes Like Members of Congress," Los Angeles Times, January 7; "Chief Justice Off Mark on Judges' Earnings, Judicial Pay Shouldn't be Tied to Congressional Salaries," Miami Herald, January 8;
The last two items seem skeptical of linkage but do not directly advocate abandoning it
  • Dahlia Lithwick
Dahlia Lithwick, "O Mighty Crisis" and "Courting Cash," Slate, January 2 and February 14. (The last two items seem skeptical of linkage but do not directly advocate abandoning it.)
The Unpersuasive Chief
  • Matthew J Franck
Matthew J. Franck, "The Unpersuasive Chief," National Review January 2, 2007.
Testimony before the Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce and Agency Organization, Committee on Government Reform
  • G Burtless
G. Burtless, "The Erosion of Compensation for Federal Executives and Judges," Testimony before the Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce and Agency Organization, Committee on Government Reform, U.S. House of Representatives, September 20, 2006 at 1, available at http://www.brookings.edu/views/testimony/burtless/20060920.htm 81 Report cited supra in note 1, p. 25.
The Ways and Means of Compensating Federal Officials
  • Arnold Weber
  • Ronald Hartman
Arnold Weber and Ronald Hartman, "The Ways and Means of Compensating Federal Officials," in The Rewards of Public Service, Compensating Top Federal Officials 1, 14 (1980, Hartman and Arnold, eds).