One legal employer is pondering a hike in base pay from just over $165,000 to nearly $250,000: the United States courts!
A bill, co-sponsored by Senators Feinstein, Graham, Hatch, McConnell, and Reid, would set judicial pay at the following levels:
District Court Judges: $247,800
Court of Appeals Judges: $262,700
Associate Justices of the Supreme Court: $304,500
Chief Justice of the United States: $318,200
The Washington Post is lukewarm on the plan:
This relatively lower pay doesn’t appear to be hurting the quality of the federal judgeship applicant pool. Federal judges also are not engaging in a mass exodus to the private sector; bench departures have indeed increased over the last few decades, as supporters of the pay raise say, but so have total judgeships by a nearly proportional rate. Higher pay would be unlikely to greatly increase the number of qualified applicants from the private sector. A lawyer who doesn’t want to exchange his earnings of $1 million per year in a corporate partnership for a prestigious and influential federal judgeship that pays $165,200 probably also won’t leave for one that pays $246,800.
Someone should ask J. Michael Luttig what salary would have kept him in the public sector. (We suspect the answer is “whatever an Associate Justice makes.”)