U.S. Chamber Backs Judicial Pay Raise Bill

July 17, 2006

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Chamber today endorsed the Federal Judicial Fairness Act (S.2276) as a key ingredient for attracting and retaining top quality federal judges. The endorsement was made by Lisa A. Rickard, President of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR), as part of her remarks at the ILR’s State of the American Judiciary conference.

“Recruiting and retaining highly-qualified individuals to serve in the judiciary is critical to the fair and efficient operation of our courts,” said Rickard. “By providing for more competitive compensation, the Federal Judicial Fairness Act would create added incentive for skilled jurists to serve on the bench.”

Sponsored by Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA), S. 2276 would repeal a federal requirement that limits pay raises for federal judges to those specifically authorized by Congress. It provides for better compensation by amending the federal judicial code to allow for cost of living adjustments on an annual basis. The legislation also increases the basic pay rate for federal judges.

“After factoring in bonuses, first-year associates may receive more compensation than some federal judges and many state court judges, all of whom were experienced lawyers before they joined the bench,” stated Rickard. “It is in every citizen’s best interest to ensure that these public servants receive compensation that is commensurate with the vital work they are doing.”

The State of the American Judiciary conference was developed to explore ways of ensuring that the judiciary is functioning at its optimum level. In addition to judicial pay, the role of specialty courts, judicial ethics, and election versus selection of judges were discussed.

The mission of the Institute for Legal Reform is to make America’s legal system simpler, fairer, and faster for everyone. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation, representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region.