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Roberts again urges salary increase for federal judges in year-end report

[JURIST] US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts [OYEZ profile] used his 2007 year-end report [PDF text] on the federal judiciary to urge Congress to increase the salaries of federal judges and to increase communication between all branches of government. In the report released Tuesday, Roberts repeated his call for judicial pay raises [JURIST report], saying Congress should act on legislation currently under review which would raise judicial salaries [US Courts materials]:

The pending legislation strikes a reasonable compromise for the dedicated federal judges who, year after year, have discharged their important duties for steadily eroding real pay. This salary restoration legislation is vital now that the denial of annual increases over the years has left federal trial judges - the backbone of our system of justice - earning about the same as (and in some cases less than) first-year lawyers at firms in major cities, where many of the judges are located.

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.
The House Judiciary Committee approved a draft bill [HR 3753 materials; JURIST report] last month that would stop judicial pay from being set at the same level as members of Congress. The bill would raise salaries for district judges to $218,000 per year; federal appeals judges would make $231,000 per year and associate Supreme Court justices would earn $267,900. The Chief Justice would earn $279,900. The Senate Judiciary Committee is considering the Senate version of the Federal Judicial Salary Restoration Act of 2007 [S 1638 materials] which would raise salaries even more than the House version.

Roberts also used the report to stress the importance of communication within the government. He said of the separate branches:
Each has a valuable perspective on the other. The Branches already engage in constructive dialogue through a number of familiar forums, including the Judicial Conference, congressional hearings, and advisory committee meetings. But the familiar avenues are not necessarily the only ones. ...

The separate Branches may not always agree on matters of mutual interest, but each should strive, through respectful exchange of insights and ideas, to know and appreciate where the others stand.
AP has more.

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