Roberts’ New Years’ resolution: pushing for pay raises

Happy 2008!

It’s a new year, and that means it’s time for the annual report on the Federal Judiciary [PDF file], penned each year by the Chief Justice of the United States and released on January 1.

This year, Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr., laid out three items on his 2008 agenda : improving communication with the legislative and executive branches of government, ensuing that federal judges maintain the highest standards of judicial conduct and integrity, and also the cause close to the heart of his predecessor, the late Chef Justice William Rehnquist – boosting judicial salaries.

In the report, Roberts praised legislation that was passed by the House Judiciary Committee and being considered by their Senate counterparts, which would “restore judicial pay to the same level that judges would have received if Congress had granted them the same cost-of-living pay adjustments that other federal employees have received since 1989 – not a full restoration but a significant one,” Roberts said.

He said the issue of pay raises wasn’t just about fairness, but also ensuring that the best and brightest jurors come to – and stay on -the bench.

“I do not need to rehearse the compelling arguments in favor of this legislation. They have already been made by distinguished jurists, lawyers, and economists in congressional hearings, letters, and editorials-and seconded by a broad spectrum of commercial, governmental, and public interest organizations that appear as litigants before the courts. I simply ask once again for a moment’s reflection on how America would look in the absence of a skilled and independent Judiciary. Consider the critical role of our courts in preserving individual liberty, promoting commerce, protecting property, and ensuring that every person who appears in an American court can expect fair and impartial justice. The cost of this long overdue legislation-less than .004% of the annual federal budget-is miniscule in comparison to what is at stake.”

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