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Why federal judges got bigger paychecks this year

Posted Jan 16, 2014 7:25 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Federal judges got fatter paychecks at the start of the year because of lawsuits that challenged repeated pay freezes.

The judges’ 14 percent pay hike is the result of catch-up cost of living adjustments, Bloomberg News reports. The Court of Federal Claims issued a final order in December making way for the increases after Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department would no longer contest the cases.

The U.S. Supreme Court denied cert last May in one of the suits, filed on behalf of six judges, after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled the pay freezes violated the compensation clause. A law in 1989 had restricted judges’ outside income while promising cost of living adjustments in exchange. Congress later refused to give judges the promised cost of living increases. The Federal Circuit said the 1989 law gave the judges a constitutional right not to have their pay cut.

A separate, successful class action sought cost of living adjustments for all federal judges, Bloomberg says.

Federal district judges will now make $199,100, up from $174,000, while federal appeals judges will make $211,200 a year, up from $184,500, Bloomberg says. The chief justice will make $255,500, up from $223,500, and associate justices now make $244,400, up from $213,900, the story says.

Prior coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Cert denial could lead to boost in federal judges’ pay”


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