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Richard Posner On the Flawed Case for a Judicial Pay Increase:

In this recent post on the Becker-Posner blog, Judge Richard Posner points out numerous flaws in the case for increasing judicial salaries put forward by Chief Justice John Roberts and others. Many of his arguments are similar to those I advanced in a series of posts on the same issue earlier this year, and last year (see here, here, and here). Among the most important of Posner's points is his emphasis on the many nonsalary benefits of being a judge that pay increase advocates ignore:

The most serious omission in Chief Justice Roberts's report is the other compensation that judges receive besides their salaries. Most judges who want to can teach a course or a seminar at a law school and receive another $25,000 in pay ....The federal judicial pension is extremely generous--a judge can retire at age 65 with only 15 years of judicial service (or at 70 with 10 years), and receive his full salary for life.... The health benefits are also good. Above all, a judgeship confers very substantial nonpecuniary benefits. The job is less taxing than practicing law, more interesting (though this is partly a matter of taste), and highly prestigious. Judges exercise considerable power, not only over the litigants in the cases before them but also in shaping the law for the future, and power is a highly valued form of compensation for many people.Judges are public figures, even if only locally, to a degree that few even very successful lawyers are. And judges are not at the beck and call of impatient and demanding clients, as even the most successful lawyers are.

I too have emphasized the importance of judges' nonsalary compensation as a way of attracting good people to the job (see here). But it means more coming from a prominent judge such as Posner than from me.

Posner does advocate a cost of living adjustment for judges located in especially expensive areas. Here too, we are in agreement, as I suggested the same thing in a post last year.

I wish I could say this is a case of great minds thinking alike. But, in reality, it's just a case where I happen to have the same views as a great mind (we disagree on many other issues).

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Posner on Judicial Salaries:
  2. Richard Posner On the Flawed Case for a Judicial Pay Increase:
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Posner on Judicial Salaries:

Posner's views are generally consistent with mine: (1) it's hard to judge the efficiency of government salaries because they are not market-based; (2) there is no reason to believe that, as a rule, federal judges are underpaid; and (3) paying judges the same amount regardless of local cost of living makes little sense.

UPDATE: Whoops, my VC RSS feed doesn't seem to be working, and I didn't notice Ilya's posting on the same topic.

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