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Senate lifts freeze on pay raises for federal judges

[JURIST] The US Senate [official website] Monday unanimously approved lifting a freeze on pay increases [S. 197 text] for federal judges. The freeze was imposed last month when a bill was passed by Congress to halt yearly cost-of-living raises for lawmakers and judges until February 15. The measure was passed as part of a commitment by Democrats to keep Congressional pay at the same rate until the federal minimum wage of $5.15 [US Department of Labor fact sheet] is increased. If the new bill also passes in the US House of Representatives [official website], judges will receive their 1.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) retroactive to January 1.

Earlier this month, US Chief Justice John Roberts [OYEZ profile] called the failure to raise the pay of federal judges a "constitutional crisis" [JURIST report] in his 2006 year-end report on the federal judiciary [text, PDF]. Roberts' plea for increased salaries goes beyond the regular yearly COLA increase, as he cited the fact that pay for federal judges is not keeping pace with the salaries of top law school professors and deans. AP has more.

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