Federal Appeals Court Slams Congress For Not Approving Judicial Pay Raises

judge judyJudge Judy, who’s not actually a federal judge.

Photo: screenshot

In a move it said would protect the independence of a weak judiciary, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled Congress was way out of bounds when it denied judges pay raises.The case began when six former and current federal judges said Congress violated the Constitution by blocking cost-of-living raises for judges, The Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog reported Saturday.

And in a ruling issued late Friday, the federal appeals court agreed, calling out Congress for bullying judges into poverty.

“All sitting federal judges are entitled to expect that their real salary will not diminish due to inflation or the action or inaction of the other branches of government,” according to the chief judge. “The judicial officer should enjoy the freedom to render decisions — sometimes unpopular decisions — without fear that his or her livelihood will be subject to political forces or reprisal from other branches of government.”

If true, Congress’ move to stop judicial pay raises does seem a bit hypocritical since lawmakers might soon be able to get more money themselves.

Toward the end of summer, lawmakers were on track to expect a 1.1 per cent raise — about $1,900 — raise in 2013, the National Journal reported in August.

President Barack Obama has announced his plans to extend a federal pay freeze. But he also reiterated his support for eventually ended that freeze by giving federal employees a .5 per cent raise starting Jan. 1, 2013, the Washington Post reported at the end of August.

A 1989 law essentially guaranteed annual automatic pay raises for members of Congress.

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