Justice Breyer supports matching judicial
pay to law professors’ compensation.
In Blawgletter’s adoptive hometown of Dallas, the local band of judicial candidate quality control inspectors asks aspiring lawyer-judges a brilliant question: will winning the election give you a pay raise or a pay cut? On the answer (with possible exceptions for public interest lawyers) hinges all. Who wants a judge whose law practice hovers in the zone of insolvency?
Please understand that Blawgletter devoutly wishes judges, state and federal, to earn pay commensurate with their essential contributions to American self-government. Smart, fair, and worry-free judges do immense good. Blawgletter loves them.
But Blawgletter also believes, along with the Dallas quality-control squad, that the best judges don’t take the bench for money. They don the black robe of objectivity because they like solving problems, feel passionately about justice, and admire the democratic wisdom of juries.
Do federal judges need a pay raise? Absolutely. Should the increase approximate what top private lawyers earn? No way. Chief Justice Roberts says they don’t even talk about "comparisons with the practicing bar anymore." Good.