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My heart is breaking over this injustice to the Chief Justice:

Chief Justice John Roberts said Wednesday that Congress should be as generous to judges as it already has been to itself, by approving an inflation-related increase in their pay.

"I must renew the judiciary's modest petition: Simply provide cost-of-living increases that have been unfairly denied," Roberts said in his annual year-end report on the federal judiciary.


Federal trial judges are paid $169,300 a year. Appellate judges make more, ranging up to Roberts' salary of $217,400. The salaries pale in comparison to what top lawyers earn in private practice.

Well, now. What can I say?

Lifetime appointment. Full salary after retirement. The most powerful judicial position in the nation. Best healthcare coverage in the country. Good parking spot, I'd imagine.

But, he's right, he could certainly make a hell of a lot more dough in the private sector.

So, here's my advice to you, John Roberts: Go for it! Climb that financial ladder! Resign from your current, dead-end job (after all, there's not much room for advancement since you're already the Chief Justice!) and go for the big bucks in a private law firm!

Of course, you don't want to burn any bridges with your current employer, so like any wise employee, make sure to give them a full 2 weeks notice before your resignation. To be on the safe side, perhaps make it a bit longer--say, oh, 3 weeks instead...

After all, I'm sure that they'll find SOMEONE to replace you...

UPDATE: Quite a few people in the comments have noted that a) Roberts is calling for a COLA increase for all federal judges, not just the SCOTUS, and b) that $217K isn't that much money, all things considered.

These are both true. HOWEVER, I'm sorry, but lifetime job security, full salary after retirement, full lifetime medical/dental/etc benefits, and a near-guarantee of fat speaking fees/book deals for most of 'em (presumably after retirement) make it difficult to cry too much. Plus, the article says that the low end of the range if $169K. Still not exactly chicken feed.

I'm not saying that they should never get a pay increase--if they were still making, say, $50K/year or whatever it was 40 years ago, I'd be a lot more sympathetic, and $150-$200K certainly isn't what it used to be--but it's still a buttload of money given all the other perks and the guarantee of never losing your job until you want to. Plus, given the current financial disaster, millions losing their jobs and homes, this is the worst possible timing for ANYONE making six figures to be griping about their pay.

Update x2: Rec'ced, cool, yadda yadda...

For what it's worth, here's a list of the official salaries of some other top-level federal employees:

As president, Bush makes $400,000 and gets additional money in various expense accounts. Cheney makes $208,100 and also has expense accounts. In September 1999, President Clinton signed legislation that increased the presidential salary to $400,000, effective January 2001. The Constitution prohibits pay raises for sitting presidents. This presidential pay raise was the first since 1969, when the president's salary was raised from $100,000 to $200,000. Adjusted for inflation, $200,000 in 1969 would be worth $930,232 today. On top of the salary and expense accounts, both the U.S. president and vice president are given free housing with plenty of amenities. The White House has 132 rooms, 32 bathrooms, a movie theater, bowling alley, billiards room, tennis court, jogging track and putting greens. Bush also has use of Camp David, the presidential retreat. Cheney lives in Number One Observatory Circle, which has been the official vice presidential residence since 1974.

Congress receives frequent pay raises. Since 1989 a cost of living increase takes effe­ct each year unless Congress votes against it. Pay for the average member of Congress has more than doubled in the past 20 years. For example, the average salary in 1983 was $69,800 and $141,300 in 2000. However, if you were to adjust the 1983 salaries for inflation, members of Congress made $119,708 in 2000. As of January 1, 2005, members of Congress make $162,100. The president pro tempore of the Senate and the majority and minority leaders of both houses are paid $180,100. The speaker of the House of Representatives makes $208,100.

Here's the thing, though: NO ONE goes into ANY of these positions for the official salary. Anyone who becomes POTUS, SCOTUS, a Cabinet member, a Senator, hell, even down to the lowliest first-term Congressman knows damned well that even a single term in office will likely be their ticket to all sorts of other more lucrative situations--book deals, talking head gigs, lobbying spots, speaking engagements, yadda yadda yadda.

Hell, look at Joe Scarborough. He was a member of the House for what, one term, but that was apparently enough to score him a presumably far-more lucrative gig at MSNBC. I have no idea what Mike Huckabee made as Gov. of Arkansas, but I'm sure he's making a hell of a lot more with his FOX show/book sales/etc. And don't get me started on how much Bill Clinton has raked in since leaving office.

Not saying any of this is wrong, just that there's hardly any call to feel sympathy for our poor, underpaid federal judges/legislators/executives. They're doing just fine, thank you very much.

Update x3: Good heavens. Not just Rec'ced, but TOP of the list? Yeeks. I'm flattered, but honestly, as I said in my response to Angry Mouse below, I actually don't think the diary itself is worthy of that. On the other hand, the discussion about the relative dollar value of public service positions vs. private sector, etc. most definitely is worthy of discussion, and I suspect that's the real reason this diary is being rec'ced, so...carry on!

As for myself, I find the "we have to pay a high salary to prevent them from taking bribes" argument is bullshit. If they were making $40K or whatever, that might be valid, but anyone who makes over $150,000/year and still considers taking bribes is gonna do so no matter how much you pay them. There's a difference between corruption due to desperation and corruption due to lack of character. Look at Bush and Cheney--they were both worth millions before taking office and still proved to be the most corrupt assholes we've elected. Do you really think that paying Bush $4 million/year instead of $400K would make any difference (other than him laughing even harder at our gullbility)?

As for the "high salary = better quality of judge", says who? There are plenty of highly-skilled, intelligent and wise lawyers/judges with integrity out there who don't make a fortune who would jump at the chance to have the prestige, authority, recognition and a $150K+ salary guaranteed for life!

UPDATE x4: OK, OK; The original title of this diary was "SCOTUS Chief Justice Roberts whines about his $217K salary". I've finally changed the title to reflect the fact that Roberts was referring to all federal judges, not just himself, and, more significantly, the larger nature of the ensuing discussion about the relative dollar value that should be accorded to SCOTUS and other judicial positions. I still hold that $160K/year or more plus full lifetime benefits should be more than ample for any honest, qualified, dedicated public servant, but I understand some of the opposing points of view.

Update x5: OK, things have turned a smidge ugly below. Several people are now trying to claim that I hate lawyers and/or judges, that I think all lawyers/judges are greedy/evil/etc, bla bla bla.

Bullshit. NOWHERE in my diary or any of my comments have I ever ripped on lawyers or judges in any way. I think they both serve an important function, and deserve to make a decent living. Everyone bitches about lawyers until they need one, etc etc; I agree whole-heartedly. None of that has anything to do with this diary, no matter what some comments by others may claim.

FINAL UPDATE (x6): After thinking over some of the more thoughtful comments from the opposing POV, I hereby declare that I'm not as certain of my position as I was this morning. Will have to ponder the issue further, but as the diary is about to fall off the Rec list, I wanted to let you know that you've presented some powerful arguments. Will think about this some more...

And with that, I'm out.

Originally posted to Brainwrap on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 09:46 AM PST.

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  •  Tips/Recs? (249+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sharoney, reef the dog, Alumbrados, Ed in Montana, Angie in WA State, vicki, chrississippi, Lawdog, lapin, Rayne, Subterranean, Caelian, Cali Scribe, TrueBlueMajority, ScientistMom in NY, newjeffct, bosdcla14, johnmorris, Sprinkles, karlpk, rincewind, LuvSet, Jim W, bellatrys, darrelplant, eeff, SallyCat, Matilda, object16, CivicServant, regis, concernedamerican, bronte17, 88kathy, groggy, pucklady, mikidee, Glic, boilerman10, buckhorn okie, roses, michelle, Miss Blue, Tomtech, BarbinMD, Joe Bacon, DeadB0y, BmoreMD, grannyhelen, Nina, wdrath, attydave, liberte, imicon, Oaktown Girl, bwintx, jesses, kfred, Elwood Dowd, Josiah Bartlett, luvmovies2000, rapala, Fabian, chumley, mrmango, lcs, Bluesee, Tinfoil Hat, jrooth, UncleCharlie, SherwoodB, klamothe, Tonedevil, Bodean, LostInTexas, Lying eyes, Chinton, sap, Alice Venturi, panicbean, drewfromct, TigerMom, Dobber, reflectionsv37, BrenP, bleeding blue, flo58, jimreyn, Inland, cspivey, Ice Blue, Phil S 33, bjedward, kaliope, Tarantula Lady, wiscmass, Shaking the Tree, Cory Bantic, grada3784, kathny, Philpm, Black Knight, 417els, Kimball Cross, felixelf, victoria2dc, ruleoflaw, InsultComicDog, dougymi, Wary, greenearth, Alexandra Lynch, triv33, gooderservice, paul2port, armadillo, bleeding heart, MarciaJ720, totallynext, doinaheckuvanutjob, llbear, nywolf, CA Nana, fiddlingnero, means are the ends, Dreaming of Better Days, MadMs, kurious, DBunn, AmericanRiverCanyon, One Pissed Off Liberal, old wobbly, marykk, wa ma, jetskreemr, terryhallinan, maxalb, drbloodaxe, 0wn, The Werewolf Prophet, Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle, newpioneer, kingyouth, Kentucky Kid, getlost, jayden, second gen, Heyroot, vbdietz, beemerr, Bronx59, millwood, Moderation, Rumarhazzit, Terra Mystica, Empower Ink, sand805, mamamedusa, calibpatriot, bythesea, blueman1, Lujane, royce, mayim, Haplogroup V, Cassandra Waites, ShempLugosi, kempsternyc, Jacques, pedmom, Virginia mom, Nica24, fromma, caps lock on, magicsister, Ellinorianne, HoosierDeb, dmhlt 66, prodigalkat, satanicpanic, wv voice of reason, JonBarleycorn, smellybeast, MufsMom, arainsb123, Mr Tentacle, DontTaseMeBro, WereBear, Shhs, janmtairy, SciVo, wethepeople, mississippi boatrat, Daily Activist, dRefractor, batgirl71, Alise, WolverineGirl, pnn23, IngeniousGirl, IDrankWhat, CityLightsLover, Lava20, Sarahsaturn, Leftcandid, BlueOak, Amber6541, ppl can fly, rosecar, angry liberaltarian, rb137, TFinSF, eXtina, dditt, kjoftherock, Interceptor7, Crabby Abbey, atxcats, NY brit expat, GayIthacan, Anne933, scarlet slipper, damned if you do, Johnny Q, Publius2008, MsGrin, Floande, jonwilliamsl, bottles, cany, Its a New Day, HylasBrook, JerichoJ8, nampa45, renbear, Colorado is the Shiznit, TAH from SLC, Pizzapotamus, DoubleT, grannyboots, nicethugbert, Olon, blueinmn, zukesgirl64, the ghost of bad dad, IndyReader, RfrancisR, Jenny Cash, The Rational Hatter

    Any other tips for proper career moves?

    •  I appreciate the snark as it relates to Roberts (52+ / 0-)

      although I don't really take his remarks as whining, I will say this: as a litigator in the civil rights/housing arena (who makes little due to my chosen practice field), judges in general should be paid more -- enough so that the best and brightest can consider serving as judge.

      Some of the best and brightest already are judges, but there are also political hacks who can afford to be there. In major cities, the current salary is just not enough. Take, for instance, a candidate for judge who must turn it down because there's no extra (spouse's or partner's) income in their household or because they must pay child support.

      •  That is a legitimate point ... another that (20+ / 0-)

        I have heard argued which I also think has legitimacy is if they are paid well, they are less subject to bribery. So as a general principle, I would support good salaries for judges. The salaries on the supreme court seem to be pretty good, so I would argue that if he finds its level insufficient, perhaps he should find a new job where the remuneration is higher (hopefully after 20th of January please)!

      •  I agree with this so much. nt (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        •  I think we ought to say fuck them (3+ / 0-)

          If judges are not smart enough to make ends meet on the salaries the get they are not smart enough to decide cases for the common man.

          •  Do you think that people who (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Joe Bob, luvmovies2000

            take their commitment to their profession seriously, who do their jobs well and ethically, deserve periodic raises, or even cost-of-living increases, which is what Roberts is talking about?

            I have a friend who's a family court judge, which believe me is not an easy or particularly fun job, and he has not received a raise of any kind in ten years. Nor have any other judges in my state, right up to the Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court, who's a staunch liberal, and has repeatedly made the same plea as Roberts. The only reason my friend hasn't left to go into private practice is because he'd lose his pension if he did, and he is no longer young, and certainly not rich. Judicial salaries are a political football.

            Would you stay on a difficult job where they hadn't given you a raise in a decade, if you had any choice? If we want a decent and committed judiciary, we have to pay them decently.

            The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

            by sidnora on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 01:23:09 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  You do realize that its twice the median income (13+ / 0-)

        of any surrounding county - inclding Loudoun and 4 times the median income of DC.

        Pretty current source of median incomes.

        human-sized penguin

        by BmoreMD on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:17:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  This kind of thing (6+ / 0-)

          moves me when you are talking about CEOs who make 20 time the median-- but twice... even three times sounds reasonable to me for a judge.

        •  I'm not stupid and I know that judges are human (12+ / 0-)

          I know what it costs to be a lawyer. I know what it costs to live in major cities. I know what happens when a family gets hit with a moderate but chronic illness. I know what mortgage rates are. I know how much childcare and tuition are.

          I know how much private firms pay.

          I know that many circuit and appeals court judges don't live in the city in which the court is located and where it meets a few times a year. I know that some can't move to the city in which the court is located for a wide variety of reasons: maybe they can't sell a house in this market, maybe their kids shouldn't leave the school they are in, maybe it's unfair to a spouse or partner.

          If you want the best and the brightest, then you don't have to pay them an obscene amount, but you need to make it equitable or at least not too painful to serve.

        •  Shouldn't a judge make (6+ / 0-)

          significantly more than the median income?

          •  They do (0+ / 0-)

            In Colorado, judges like this one evidently take gratuities and blow it on high-priced hookers.  According to our local press, Judge Naughty isn't the only judge who patronized call-girls for $1,000-$1,500 a session.

            •  Should we consider that an "economic stimulus" nt (0+ / 0-)
            •  Sounds like a problem with your local judges (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              you'd have to be engaging in rather specious reasoning to generalize from your local circumstances to all judges without additional evidence.

              •  Given that the "fix" can only work if (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                the appellate courts are on board, it is reasonable to infer corruption throughout the system.  And as for other courts, I'll cite Dershowitz:

                It is widely known that many state court judges and some lower court judges play favorites among litigants and lawyers. Roy Cohn once famously quipped, "I don’t care if my opponent knows the law, as long as I know the judge." In the old days, it was financial corruption -- cash changed hands. Then it became the "favor bank," in which personal favors are quietly stored and exchanged. I have seen it with my own eyes in the courts of Boston, New York, and elsewhere.

                I've seen it in Denver.  Dershowitz has seen it in at least three places.  Thomas Porteous has been removed from office for it.  There's enough evidence to lead the reasonable person to believe that it is widespread.

          •  Why? (0+ / 0-)

            Not saying they shouldn't, I'm just asking why you automatically think they should?

            •  Well (4+ / 0-)

              because it's a job few people are qualified to do, those who are qualified can easily make far more in the private sector, and we want to do our best to assure they are compensated well enough that they will be difficult to bribe and/or otherwise corrupt.

              For starters.

              •  I'm not saying that they should be paid peanuts.. (0+ / 0-)

                ...but as I noted in my update above, anyone making a six-figure income who is still open to bribery shouldn't be in the job in the first place.

                •  I disagree with your update (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  sidnora, the ghost of bad dad

                  I certainly agree that anyone open to bribery shouldn't be in the job. But I don't think there's an easy way to ascertain that.

                  That said, a six-figure income when, say, raising a family in a major metropolitan area is decidedly middle class, for all that many people here seem to believe that it's wildly wealthy. Add to that the fact the judicial salaries have been going up slower than inflation (never something you want to see happen if you want happy employees-- we do want good morale among judges, right?) and the fact that we're having trouble finding qualified people for district judgeships (this isn't, ultimately, about Roberts).

                  But the big cherry on top is that people shouldn't be forced to choose between what is best for their families financially and doing something for the good of the nation; they ought to be able to do both. Lawyers of the calibre to become top judges are being asked to make that choice; while I don't imagine we'll ever be able to compensate them in a fashion that's comparable to what they'd make in private practice, we can at least make an effort to see that their compensation tracks well with increases in cost of living, inflation, etc.

              •  Are their a lot of position which can't be filled (0+ / 0-)

                I haven't heard of a huge judge shortage. I don't follow the issue so correct me if I am wrong.

                That would say that there are plenty of qualified people willing to take the job at the going rate.

        •  He probably has unusual expenses (8+ / 0-)

          given that he lives on his own island and has to maintain a boat and all.

          Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Impeach, Incarcerate

          by rktect on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:55:01 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Total Income from investments? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BmoreMD, Badabing

          June 2007

          WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Supreme Court justices are generally well off financially and a number of them spent the past year jetting to such exotic locales as Malaysia and South Africa, according to financial disclosure reports released Friday.

          The reports confirmed what has been known for some time: Most of the justices are relatively well off financially. At least six of the nine justices report investment income of more than $1 million. Justice Samuel Alito, the newest member of the high court, may be in that group.


          Federal judges are not required to publicly release exact income figures, just a general range.

          Chief Justice John Roberts may have the most diverse investment portfolio. He recorded 66 different investments and trusts, including stock in Time Warner (Charts, Fortune 500), the parent company of CNN and, Citicorp (Charts, Fortune 500), Hewlett-Packard (Charts, Fortune 500) and Pfizer (Charts, Fortune 500). Their estimated value ranges from about $2.4 million to almost $6 million.

          Think Tank. "A place where people are paid to think by the makers of tanks" Naomi Klein.

          by ohcanada on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:00:56 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  How many days a year are the SCOTUS in session? (5+ / 0-)

            How many days a year do they actually, you know, show up at the 'office'?  

            At the website, you can look up the number of days Congress has been in session for every year since the 70s. In 2008, the Senate was only in session for 165 days, and the House was only in session for a whopping 115 days! and they just 'automatically' voted themselves another $4,700.00 raise effective 1/1/09. This automatic raise used to be voted on in Congress, and seeing that they have a 9 percent approval rating right now, I'm insulted that they have the nerve to give themselves a raise when they only bothered to show up about, what? 35 percent of the time.

            Disgraceful!!!  As for Roberts, I agree with the diarist. A full time salary after retiring? When people are losing their pensions across the board in our country?  Roberts and congress live in a 'bubble' and they are completely out of touch with what is going on in our country.  There is no such thing as a 'merit' increase for any of these people, since they are the ones deciding when and how they deserve a raise.  Must be nice.

            Mr. Bush, paused for a single, stunned moment to take it all in and said: "How, did we get here?" (The Biggest Lie of all the Lies.)

            by Badabing on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:43:18 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Professionals Receive Salaries (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Joe Bob

                The idea that the Supreme Court justices are on a clock is so out of touch with reality it is is laughable.  Their hours are inordinate.  Read a simple case.  Try writing your own version in a few minutes.  I've heard oral arguments.  They are well prepared.  The justices are very active in legal education.  They attend conferences abroad.  I will defend them.  A law professor's salary would be just compensation.  No one is arguing for parity with private lawyers.  Justice is precious to me.

      •  I do not have time to concern myself with the (12+ / 0-)

        Judiciary salary.
        I am balancing my checkbook and am finding it harder as OT has been cut.

      •  ksh01, didn't Roberts become involved (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Miss Blue, drewfromct

        with the Bybee/Yoo/Addington torture letters and essentially check off on these?

        That sounds like aiding and abetting the commission of war crimes.

        I don't think he needs a pay raise.  What is more publicly responsible is an investigation.

        Today, 12/30/08, 4219 Americans, and untold Iraqis are dead, tens of thousands more maimed. Bush lied; President-Elect Obama, it is your war now.

        by boilerman10 on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:40:25 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Boilerman, do you really want salary (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          contingent on quality of decisions? You'd be institutionalizing bribery of the worst sort. Imagine if the right did this when they get back in power.

          This isn't about Roberts. It's about the judiciary in general.

          BTW, I don't know if you'd call it "checking off" on the torture memo, though Roberts was seated on the fed court that ruled in the administration's favor and held some meetings with them in the process.

          I don't know enough about what he did to say whether it's war crimes or not. I'd certainly have ethical concerns.

          But like I said, this isn't about Roberts.

          •  Agreed, but I simply asked about Roberts, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            and these ethical questions.

            Today, 1/1/09, 4221 Americans, and untold Iraqis are dead, tens of thousands more maimed. Bush lied; President-Elect Obama, it is your war now.

            by boilerman10 on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 12:11:49 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Here's my problem with your concern with salaries (0+ / 0-)

            I understand about "best and brightest" but considering the job you would expect OLDER people to take the jobs.  Yes, people that have made their money and/or are legal scholars that have an established academic bkgrnd.  These people would have had years of earning mucho dinero in their history.  I would maybe like to see 60 or 65 year age limit for scotus.  That way turnover is faster and you don't get ideological dicks like thomas and scalia on it for 40-50 years.  I can't imagine that any person should be a "judge" at any level prior to the age of 50.  I know there are some but maybe there should not be.  

            •  Ask any lawyer who practices in the federal court (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Joe Bob, boilerman10, apdva

              if he thinks that those who get federal district judgeships are some of the best and smartest lawyers out there.  Once in a while, yes, but most often, no.  

              Yes, you will always find people over 50 who've already made zillions who want to be on the Supreme Court.

              The problem is at the district court level.  If you're not in Washington, NY, or someplace like that, really good lawyers aren't making millions a year.  But they are making significantly more than federal district judges.  When you're 45 or 50, and your kids are going to college, and you haven't accumulated so much money that you don't care about money, it's hard to say I'll take 1/2 o 1/3 of what I was making for the rest of my career.  

              The problem is not the Supreme Court.  Roberts doesn't care about what he makes.  He's a zillionaire.  He was, as part of his role as CJ, advocating for a raise for the whole judiciary.  The District court is where it is needed.  

              •  Refer back to my age limit of 60-65 years old (0+ / 0-)

                kids are thru college and the person would have made their money.  Yes, I agree with you about pay in the lower courts.  But everyone has a choice to make when taking that job.  If they can't handle it financially then don't take the job.  

                Also, at 45 should you be a Judge?  Do you know enough at 45?  Hell, I don't think you should be a full professor at a law school before 50 let alone doling out life sentences.  

                It is amazing that the field that loves to push it pro bono and legal aid clinics finds it difficult to staff people for 160 - 250K jobs.  From my perspective, if you promised 160 - 250K to someone to go care for the poor you would have to turn people away.  You wouldn't even have to offer the lifetime appointment.  So my heart goes out to all those lawyers that really are dying to serve the people but can't swing it with their obligations.  Plus, they had it so tough coming up with those 2200/wk summer internships and those 140k starting salaries after 2 years...ahem, er, I mean 3 years of hard graduate work.  Oops, sorry!  My visceral dislike of lawyers showed its ugly head again.  

                And just to be real here, just like with doctors, even if you gave across the board raises said "best and brightest" are not gonna go to these remote areas to be judges.  That is unless you raised it to outrageous lawyerly prices like 500-1M.  

                •  Well, here's my point (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Joe Bob

                  I am a lawyer.  I know there are good lawyers and others who really suck.  Guess which ones I want for federal judgeships.  So, it's not about just "filling the position."  I want it filled with the best judges, not just average judges.  Judges are just too important in people's lives.  And, I don't want somebody who's 65 who's going to be around only a couple of years and who's past his prime.  I want a really smart, really hard-working person who is in the prime of his/her career.  Those kinds of people can make a lot, lot more in private practice, so they ususally don't make it known that they want a federal judgeship (and yes, you "make it known" you want one).  Lots and lots of times, federal judges are political hacks.  

                  Ask any lawyer who regularly practices in the federal courts if he thinks that the judges some of the smartest, and hardest working, lawyers in the community.  

                  •  I get ya now (0+ / 0-)

                    But even as someone is "winding down" they are still able to make judgements, no?  They have all the clerks and all the briefs written up for them.  Would this take too much out of someone that is older.  (and I will let everyone that is approaching or over the 65YO hill get made at you for implying that they couldn't hack it;-))  I just find the judgement of 30, 40, and 50 year olds to be far more questionable than our fellow, older citizens.  I could be wrong and I fully defer to your professional judgment.  

                    Uhhh, even my mediocre powers of deduction allowed me to discern your profession my friend:-)!  

                    And the legal pay may be changing.  we will see if the people that overcome you guys and your hourly pay scale.  NPR had a story on a firm getting rid of the hourly and moving toward a per case price basis.  I can't imagine that the law will be as profitable in private practice when your can more easily compare cost on a per case basis.

                    •  As someone who tries cases (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      (yes, you guessed correctly, I'm a lawyer) I can tell you that judges, like anybody else, get better with experience.  The "sweet spot" for a judge is probably in the early 50's, somebody with several years behind him or her, but still works hard, and still having some idealism (not too jaded) and still intellectually curious.  And believe me, I can tell when a judge works hard as opposed to somebody who leaves all the work to a law clerk.  The latter are the worst.  We all know who they are.

                      We need smart, hardworking people in positions that have such a monumental influence on people's lives.  Hardly anybody has a case reach the Supreme Court. Lots of people see local judges. If you aren't smart, hard working, and intellectually curious, it's really easy, for example, to take a "throw the criminal in jail" attitude rather than sifting through the nuances of the exclusionary rule.  

                      As for the private practice, I know a good criminal defense lawyer here in New Orleans, who is not famous or really well-known, who already charges on a case by case basis, who made $600,000 last year.  I know many plaintiffs' personal injury lawyers, who already operate on a contingency, and the good, smart ones make well more than a federal judge.  Those are the kinds of people who ought to be on the short list for judgeships, but who understandably don't want to signficantly alter the lifestyle of their families so as to take a judgeship.  

              •  Astute comment (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Joe Bob

                  Justice Scalia was on C-span recently discussing the Court's work with some college students in the D.C. area.  He compared the role of civil law judges with common law ones.  In Europe, a university undergraduate degree qualifies one to be a junior judge.  They are extreme bureaucrats, almost always allying themselves with government.  A judge receives little respect.  In Great Britain and here, judges are selected from a pool of professional lawyers whose bread and butter is fighting the government.  We need hardened brilliant warriors, particularly in trial courts.

            •  May I just say re: this (0+ / 0-)

              These people would have had years of earning mucho dinero in their history.

              Prior salary and personal wealth are not relevent to an Attorney's ability to ably serve on the bench.

              Rich lawyers are not automatically better than poor ones.

              •  Absolutely agree with you (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                Also, that is not what I was trying to say.  My point was that by the time someone is of a certain age and professional stature they would have already pocketed enough dough that taking a "paycut" to head to the bench shouldn't be a problem.  

                And I would never, ever equate financial net worth with competence.

                thank you for pointing out that my words may not have been clear.  good day to you emmaKY.

              •  Usually better, yes (0+ / 0-)

                  I'm returning to public service after a corporate stint.  Sadly, the better paid lawyers are almost always better.  It does make a difference where you attend school and what your class rank is.  Nothing is universally true.  I see a direct relationship between compensation and the quality of legal services.  I had hoped it would not be as severe.  Large firms can devote such resources with incredibly bright lawyers, the playing field is almost never level.  I now view monetary resources as far more important than legal theory.  


      •  In the case of Roberts, Alito, Scalia and Thomas (4+ / 0-)

        Its really not fair to ask them to work for so little, especially with the projected salary cuts that will be coming along to trim the budget.

        Why not release them to private industry where they can work for wages better suited to their financial requirements?

        Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Impeach, Incarcerate

        by rktect on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:51:44 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Timing is everything (12+ / 0-)

        Is NOW really the right time to be asking for a raise?

        Aside from the fact that I loathe this dishonest piece of crap and don't believe he should be paid one dollar per year, much less six figures - is this the definition of a Republican or what?  Record homelessness, record food stamp users, record unemployment, record foreclosures - yeah, I'll ask for a fucking raise.

        Oh please, give me a break.  

        "But your flag decal won't get you into heaven anymore"--Prine 4210+ dead Americans. Bring them home.

        by Miss Blue on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:52:24 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Im about to become a Major (8+ / 0-)

        in the JAG Corps.

        With my prior time I will make over 100K dollars.

        That's almost half of what the Chief Justice makes and more than half for many Federal Judges.

        I dunno, that doesn't seem necessarily right to me.

        A JAG Colonel probably makes 130K a year, maybe more.
        An important position to be sure, worthy of 130K? I'd say yes.

        But as important as a federal judge? Eh, not so sure on that one, but yet the pay is fairly close.

      •  Some need $60,000 a year just to keep them in (0+ / 0-)


      •  SCOTUS is a freakin' PART-TIME JOB!!! (3+ / 0-)

        If these jackasses spent less time giving speeches and writing books and more time READING BRIEFS, I'd be a little more sympathetic.

      •  I've been practicing for 18 years. (10+ / 0-)

        I stopped litigating a couple of years ago, but back in the day did a great deal of Title VII (that means employment discrimination to you lay people) work, civil rights and some criminal law and contract-related matters.

        With all due respect, I could not disagree with you more.  I wholly reject the "we've-got-to-pay-higher-salaries-to-attract-high-caliber-lawyers" to the Bench.

        A good person, a good attorney who considers the Bench a true calling will seek going into the judiciary.  Unfortunately, too few do.  But that's not about money.

        Other countries actually train people for the Bench coming right out of law school, which includes gaining "real world" experience in litigation, in law offices, as well as learning the about being a judge (and resisting the temptations of "being political").  We could use more of that here, too.



        "We in the gloam, old buddy," he said, "We definitely right in the middle of it." -Larry Brown

        by BenGoshi on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:14:17 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  with all due respect, ben (3+ / 0-)

          Women judges are the ones who suffer most from the salary discrepancy as are minorities. Maintaining a low paying judiciary assures white male dominance on the bench.

          Judges are the top of the judicial field. They should be paid considerably more than a first year associate and they are not.

          •  Sorry, but I simply reject the premise that... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:


             the words "suffer" and "$100k"-"$200+k" should go into the same sentence.

             Judges are NOT at the "top" of the field.  I know and have practiced before some great judges, and some who couldn't pour pee out of a boot.  All kinds.  Do you practice?  Have you only appeared before wizened members of the bench of deserve shitloads of money?  If so, then your experience has been far different from mine.

            That sole practitioner who labors -- often thanklessly -- at practicing law and who who knows "feast and famine" . . . those are the heroes of lawyerdom and the American judicial system in my opinion.

            You're free to disagree with that.  Ain't free speech grand?


            "We in the gloam, old buddy," he said, "We definitely right in the middle of it." -Larry Brown

            by BenGoshi on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:36:34 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  should read: "who deserve..." - nt - (0+ / 0-)

              "We in the gloam, old buddy," he said, "We definitely right in the middle of it." -Larry Brown

              by BenGoshi on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:59:06 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  you can reject it all you want (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Reality is reality. In my city, low income for a family of four is defined by ordinance as $93K as of five years ago. Don't know if it's been increased lately.

              I don't believe in measuring experience as a right to have an opinion and I'm not comfy with identifying my personal life, but to end that segment of your argument, I'm admitted to practice in all of my state's courts and in two different fed districts and the appeals court in the district in which I live. I've appeared and argued in them. I'm very well acquainted with being a solo litigator. My experience is pretty diverse in terms of quality of judges.

              Judge is as high as lawyers go without leaving the field or being a partner in a big firm.  

              Judges have lives just like everyone else and have the same types of expenses and costs.

              And yes, free speech is grand.

              •  Yes, reality IS reality, and that's what you're (0+ / 0-)


                Whiny asses who can't "get by" on a judge's salary have no business on the Bench.  THAT's reality.

                There was a time when being a judge was an honor and honorable wanted to be judges.  

                Some honorable people -- people I know, friends of mine -- are sitting judges; not whiners like those about whom you're an apologist for.  Unfortunately, too few honorable people these days.  But money doesn't by honor, or talent, or integrity.  That's a reality that you likewise reject.

                One would think that the very public, Wall Street-related, events of the past few months would've taught you and your fellow apologists that.  


                "We in the gloam, old buddy," he said, "We definitely right in the middle of it." -Larry Brown

                by BenGoshi on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 07:07:09 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Ben, I don't know what's going on with you (0+ / 0-)

                  you never got ad hominem before. I'm not an apologist for anyone, but I do think that federal judges should earn more than what a first year associate can make.

                  People have to live and $160K a year while living in a large city is just not commensurate with the experience and intellect, talent and ability required of a sitting federal judge. It's too much of a sacrifice for people who have the financial obligations people at that level of their profession have.

                  I don't only want people who can afford to sit on the bench to be there.

                  Honor has nothing to do with it. Obama will make over $300K but all his expenses are basically taken care of. His wife won't be earning a salary.

                  Federal judges are the top of our judicial branch. Why make them sacrifice to do it?

        •  Pay for the right kind of lawyers (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          The fact of the matter is that civil rights lawyers make peanuts. Law school costs so much these days that to pay off loans, new grads have to go to work in corporate law because that's the only sector of law that will pay them enough.

      •  Quit (0+ / 0-)

        If you don't like the fact that you have a job for life.  Don't have to go through election process and are set then quit and go back to law practice.  times are tough.  

        Not only did we beat the British now we have to beat the Bushes.

        by libbie on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:16:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I'd have to argue (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        drewfromct, mamamedusa

        as someone who has in the past survived on $23,000 in New York City, that if you can't get by on $100K+ you need to re-evaluate how you're spending your money.

        •  I doubt you were paying off $150k in loans (0+ / 0-)

          at the time...

          And that $150k is just from law school.  Many people have even more from undergrad.

          •  I have about $90K in student loans (0+ / 0-)

            And I'm about to go back to grad school and rack up a whole lot more.

            Law school, along with most higher education facilities, is expensive. And it's unfortunate. But I stand by my assessment. It's about getting on a payment plan and living within your means.

            •  I've lived on a $20k salary (0+ / 0-)

              in a major metropolitain city,  so I know that it would be impossible to fully pay those sort of loans on a $20somethingk salary.

              With a $25k yearly salary & NY taxes, your monthly take-home pay would be appx. $1602.  (Thank you Paycheck calculator!) I can't see how one could pay back loans of $150k on that salary.

              If you were paying back $90k in loans with that sort of take home pay, you should write a book... I'd love to know how you did it.  (I'm not even being sarcastic!)

              •  Consolidation... (0+ / 0-)

                a low interest rate and a 30-year plan. Plus, I was working two jobs and didn't have much time for anything else. I'm going to be in debt for a very long time. But I made an investment in myself and it'll pay off in the end.

      •  Supreme court judges should have already made (0+ / 0-)

        their money in the private sector prior to their appointment.  How else would they get noticed as one of the "best and brightest"?  They aren't usually appointed fresh out of school.  Having said that, the salary quoted seems shockingly low, to be honest, considering I'm a highschool grad/shiftworker and I make a good portion of that.

      •  public defenders make less (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Have less power and play a critical role. Let's look at those salaries first.

      •  That's only an argument for geographic COLA. n/t (0+ / 0-)

        I want to live in a civilization.

        by SciVo on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 03:44:05 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I don't agree. (14+ / 0-)

      I think we need to pay judges and our politicians well. Pay should increase wit inflation-- if they are too poorly paid only the rich and well connected will be able to do the job-- and they will be more tempted to take bribes and such.

      So no I don't like the guy but to me this is just populist whining. It's fun to get mad because he makes more than most of us-- But whatever.

    •  Judges need to be paid more (14+ / 0-)

      consider that they are being drawn from a profession in which a top performer makes many times $217,000 a year; if we want to be able to attract the top legal minds to be judges, we need to be prepared to pay them appropriately.

      Judge salary is actually a serious issue, much though I hate agreeing with Roberts.

      •  Lawyers need to be paid less (7+ / 0-)

        ... which is best accomplished by raising the top marginal tax rate to the neighborhood it was in when our economy still worked for everyone, say 70%. Salaries in the range $169,300 - 217,400 are in the top 5% range, enough to take a dream vacation every year and still leave a tidy sum for the next generation of Robertses.

        I agree we do want to keep them in the top 5% range..

      •  It what way is remuneration connected to (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        legal acumen?

        Participating in the judicial process is an obligation of citizenship.  Let them take turns.  Then the service won't be so personally onerous.

        How do you tell a predator from a protector? The predator will eat you sooner rather than later.

        by hannah on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:32:21 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Let them take turns?! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Are you seriously suggesting that we cycle through lawyers in some sort of judicial draft without regard to their capacity to do the job well?

          Some of the best and most thoughtful writing produced in the last 200+ years in this country has come from Supreme Court, State Supreme Court, and Circuit Court Judges. I'd rather not see Lionel Hutz as Chief Justice, thanks just the same.

      •  Is robert not an advocate of market based (4+ / 0-)

        economy. Whey demand and supply determine the price of good? Are we in short supply of qualify people to be supreme court judges? I don't think so. May I ask of his position of paying living wage to those at the bottom of the ladder. What is good for Robert should also be good for Barnny Smith the cleaner

        •  We are in short supply (4+ / 0-)

          of people willing to become District Court judges.  Ask anybody who practices in the local federal court systems.  Yes, there are lots of people willing to be District Court judges, but often they are political hacks who have cozied up to local politicans or the state party rather than the best from the legal profession.  I want that federal judge -- who is the first line in interpreting our Constitution for everyone -- to be the best from our legal profession.  That's just not happening.  The disparity in income is too great to be able to attract a significant pool of "the best" from private practice.

          Supreme Court nominees are ususally people like Robers who have already made zillions in private practice.  Plus they can make speaking fees.  Roberts is advocating for the entire federal judiciary (that's part of his job as CJ) and the problem is being seen at the District Court level.  

          •  I'd be willing to pay for a judge who actually (3+ / 0-)

            followed precedent every once in a while.  As it now stands, these people are so drunk with absolute power that they don't give a damn about the money.

          •  Wouldn't raising the pay accelrate this (0+ / 0-)

            Yes, there are lots of people willing to be District Court judges, but often they are political hacks who have cozied up to local politicans or the state party rather than the best from the legal profession.

            Making the job financially more attractive would increase the number of political hacks angling for the appointment not decrease the number.

        •  This is a non-sensical, conservative argument (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Joe Bob, dedmonds, futurebird, NWTerriD

          You should realize that YOU are the one who is advocating a position that is way, way to the right of Roberts.

          Judges and the justice system are a collective good, and judges are chosen through a political and theoretically democratic (1 person, 1 vote) process, not (when things are working correctly) through a market process. Otherwise, judicial positions would be treated as labour commodities and bought, dealt, and sold by individuals and corporations who controlled sufficient capital to do so.

          Judges, because they are supposed to be serving in the public interest, are paid far below the market rate for lawyers of their caliber. There are 1st-year associate lawyers in NY and DC who make more than Roberts does, and therefore much, much more than the average federal trial judge.

          I am all for passing laws requiring that everyone who works in the private sector be paid a minimum wage consistent with basic dignity, but there is no reason to think that accomplishing this goal requires starving the public sector of its funding.

          •  Wow, seriously? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Joe Bob

            I figured 1st-year Wall St/DC associate salaries had probably continued increasing from the $70K they were back when I was familiar with legal salaries in the 80's, but are they really over 200K now?

            January 20th can't get here soon enough.

            by NWTerriD on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 12:32:49 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  believe it (0+ / 0-)

              I'm in the Upper Midwest, so you could adjust these figures accordingly for NYC or DC. As a first-year associate in a not-especially-lucrative practice group in a big-name law firm, a close friend earned in the $120,000s last year. They got offers as high as $160,000 from headhunters in other West & Midwest markets.

              The most highly-paid first-year associates I've met are in intellectual property, where $160,000-$180,000 is not uncommon. It's worth mentioning, many of these IP attorneys have PhDs or other advanced degrees in addition to a JD. So, I could easily see an IP attorney in New York paid $225,000+ as a new associate.

              Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho Marx

              by Joe Bob on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 04:16:08 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Here's my question, what are the hours and (0+ / 0-)

                what is their job security like?  Don't most firms just turn and burn these associates.  The charge their clients for the top lawyer but it's these associates doing the work up until it gets to court(if it ever does).  I also think the world just changed, the new state of the economy will make people think long and hard before using this expensive talent.  I know there have been some top firms in my area that have just disbanded because the economy just can't support them.  We now have a new bench mark, the world before September 2008 and the world after.  Isn't it interesting that both of this country's life changing events happened in September?

                •  the situation here (0+ / 0-)

                  As far as the individual I know well, the hours are are long but not that long. I think their billable hour requirements are 1850/year. It works out to 50-60 hours per week on average.

                  Regarding job security, unless one is explicitly hired as a staff attorney one is assumed to be partner-track. Ergo, it's not a high-churn, hire and fire practice. The firm has instituted a salary freeze for 2009 for partners. Associates are still eligible for bonus pay if they bill excess hours. Otherwise, no layoffs thus far.

                  As far as my locale as a whole, there was one medium-sized firm, about 50 attorneys, that imploded last year. Otherwise, there really haven't been any dramatic developments.

                  Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho Marx

                  by Joe Bob on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 07:38:03 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Last year, yes, this year, maybe not so much... (0+ / 0-)

              ...the bonuses for 2007 put JDs finishing their 1st full year at a firm in NYC (and DC) at over $200k...this year, most 1st years would've been a bit short--unless they were pseudo 2d years who had clerked for a year 1st, and then they would've been well over because of the clerkship bonus.

              As for whether corporate-commercial lawyers are paid too much--it's just how the margins of modern semi-mixed market capitalism works, I suppose.

              I've been thinking a lot about these kinds of issues--now that I think most thinking people have abandoned both the "pure' theories of central control/planning (socialism/communism) as well as laissez faire capitalism, we're sort of left with this mixed market, ad hoc stuff. But the crucial question still persists: what do you do about the fact that we need generally decentralized (IE "free") markets to deal with the massive quantities of information that has to circulate through a modern, developed economy, yet in such a system, very large pools of capital, and the huge amount of power that they provide, will inevitably accumulate in the hands of a small elite (and will trickle down only very disproportionately--with the largest slices going to folks who possess the most esoteric, elite, and control-oriented forms of knowledge/capacities, like the lawyers we've been irritably discussing here...).

      •  Interesting... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dharmafarmer, dedmonds

        and I agree.

        Singapore has long had some of the highest payscales for public servants in the world, and at the same time some of the lowest levels of corruption as well.

        You get what you pay for alot of times.

        I think many forget that very talented people tend to be able to make quite a bit of money regardless of what they do.  If you want top talent on the Federal bench then you will have to pay them top salaries.

    •  Bad pay for a lawyer, but GREAT pay for a whore. (11+ / 0-)

      So I don't understand what Roberts is whining about.

    •  I'll Trade my Salary With His (3+ / 0-)

      any day of the week & twice on Sunday. Ya' think he'd accept the offer?

      On behalf of all "Hoosiers," I apologize for Evan Bayh!

      by CityLightsLover on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:44:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Please tell Roberts to resign and then (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bellatrys, snazzzybird

      get a lobbyist job like all the Republicans who retire and go on to make billions stealing (oops, I meant lobbying) their friends on the Hill.

      Screw you Roberts. If you don't like it, please feel free to quit and enjoy the good life.

    •  Anybody who thinks $200+k is not very much money (0+ / 0-)

      needs to meet a certain sharp-faced lady whose kiss cures all ailments...

      "Don't be a janitor on the Death Star!" - Grey Lady Bast (change @ for AT to email)

      by bellatrys on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:56:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  If he wants money, he can remain the head of (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      SCOTUS and supplement his income with bribes. He couldn't do it legally, but IOKIYAAR.

      40% of the Obama voters don't pay taxes. The dems retain power by keeping people dependent on hand-outs. -- From a post at

      by Kimball Cross on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:09:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Obama should do a FDR and cut their salaries (0+ / 0-)

      by 15 percent (in his first couple months).

      GOP = Godless opposition party We Hassle to make America a Vassal (state)

      by Shhs on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:23:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  A higher salary for judges... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joe Bob, ksh01

      means more of the best and brightest on the bench working for us rather than on the boards of big corporations working against us. I completely agree with Roberts, especially when you compare the U.S.'s judicial salaries with foreign countries. Many judge positions in European countries make twice as much as our judges.

      "The only thing I would trust Dick Cheney on is if I had a dead hooker in my hotel room." --Jon Stewart

      by DemBrock on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 12:51:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't see a direct correlation (0+ / 0-)

        Many people post this stipulation. But it is a leap from pay them more to  you will get the best legal minds. That is a leap of faith. If you are going to make that argument you may want some facts to back you up.

        Since Judges either are appointed or elected. There is no guarantee that the "Highest Quality Legal Mind" would get the position no matter what the salary.

        Plus it is a bit hard to define what a great legal mind would be.

        Even in a less subjective field. Take sports for instance.. The highest paid team doesn't automatically win the championship.

        •  True... (0+ / 0-)

          but the teams with the highest payroll do have a better winning percentage over time and most often sign the best players (i.e. Yankees-Sabathia, Teixeira, Burnett).

          "The only thing I would trust Dick Cheney on is if I had a dead hooker in my hotel room." --Jon Stewart

          by DemBrock on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 05:36:41 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I would like to tip/rec your updates too! (0+ / 0-)

      In 2006, the Congress; in 2008, the White House; in between, out of Iraq.

      by Nina on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 03:56:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I disagree with your interprutation. (0+ / 0-)

      I think Roberts is arguing that while congress never neglects to give ITSELF raises on a yearly basis, that the judiciary isn't quite so lucky andmay go for years without a cost of living raise.

      Yeah they make good money.  No one's doubting that.  But no matter how good the job, it still sucks to work year after year without any raise.

      You are entitled to express your opinion. But you are NOT entitled to agreement.

      by DawnG on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 04:11:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  He should quit then. (22+ / 0-)

    Until we break the corporate virtual monopoly on what we hear and see, we keep losing, don't matter what we do.

    by Jim P on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 09:47:39 AM PST

  •  fuck him (14+ / 0-)

    I think all of congress and these judges should be paid the median wage of the US household.  They want to rule us, then live like us.

    •  Legislators, sure. They make economic policy. (5+ / 0-)

      Judges have almost no say in economic policy, though... and if we want the best lawyers to go into the judiciary, we're going to need to pay them a competitive wage.

      Join the Matthew 25 Network and help Democrats win the next generation of evangelicals.

      by mistersite on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 09:59:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  dont get me started (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        happymisanthropy, ShempLugosi

        dont get me started about overpayed doing nothing leeches that call themselves lawyers.

        •  That's really despicable. (10+ / 0-)

          I assume if you ever find yourself in legal trouble, you won't be hiring a lawyer to assist you.

          Hope you enjoyed it, Sarah, 'cause we just kicked your silly winking folksy lipsticked ass back to Alaska. Now shut the fuck up and stay there. Also.

          by Kaili Joy Gray on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:28:24 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  So when Dupont spills... (0+ / 0-)

          chemicals in the river next to one of their plants, and you get leukemia from drinking the water that comes from the river, are you just going to do nothing and say "no big deal, thanks for giving me leukemia?"

          Or are you going to hire a lawyer and sue, having them clean up their spill and pay for your doctor bills?

          "The only thing I would trust Dick Cheney on is if I had a dead hooker in my hotel room." --Jon Stewart

          by DemBrock on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 01:13:22 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  When DuPont (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dark daze

            or some other giant corporation harms the public, who will have the money to hire the most talented lawyers--the public, or the corporations?

            It seems to me that lawyers are comparable to mercenary soldiers, and that the only reason good people ever need them is in order to protect themselves from bad people who use them.

            Before you complain that lawyers get a bad rap, you might consider why so many of us hate, fear, and distrust the legal profession.

            Al Qeada is a faith-based initiative.

            by drewfromct on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 03:36:06 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  That is the point (0+ / 0-)

              It seems to me that lawyers are comparable to mercenary soldiers, and that the only reason good people ever need them is in order to protect themselves from bad people who use them.

              We don't live in a perfect world. If we did nobody would ever break the law, and judges and lawyers would never be needed. But that obviously is not real life. In real life, bad people break the law and hurt those good people. And in events such as these, there must be somebody there to defend them and make sure the bad people are brought to justice. This should be the govt, but sometimes the govt is not paying attention or is not doing its job. Therefore those who are hurt must hire a lawyer who knows the law and can bring the corporation to justice.

              Add of course the corporation is going to hire high priced lawyers. They aren't just going to say "yes I gave you cancer. Here have a million dollars for your doctor bills." The justice system is not perfect. Too often it is affected by money or prejudice. But it is the lawyer working for the good people through a class-action lawsuit that gets the environment cleaned up.

              I am becoming a lawyer not to make money, but to defend those who cannot defend themselves.

              "The only thing I would trust Dick Cheney on is if I had a dead hooker in my hotel room." --Jon Stewart

              by DemBrock on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 05:58:12 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  sure (0+ / 0-)

                I am becoming a lawyer not to make money, but to defend those who cannot defend themselves

                opening you own firm?  cause I am sure the partner who hire you will have a BIG difference of option on that attitude.

                Memeber of the family is Harvard lawschool grad, worked in a top law office in a major city,  she now is a school teacher.  Should tell you enough, law profession is one big joke just like wallstreet where I use to work.

                •  sigh... (0+ / 0-)

                  law profession is one big joke

                  That is the stupidest fucking thing I have ever read. I guess county prosecutors who send murderers and rapists to prison are big jokes. I guess Thurgood Marshall and Brown v. Board of Education are big jokes. I guess Patrick Fitzgerald, the man who prosecuted Scooter Libby and Gov. Blagojevich is a big joke. I guess lawyers for the Sierra Club who defend the environment against big polluters and recent Bush administration rule changes are big jokes.

                  "The only thing I would trust Dick Cheney on is if I had a dead hooker in my hotel room." --Jon Stewart

                  by DemBrock on Fri Jan 02, 2009 at 12:26:21 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

      •  I understand this point (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ShempLugosi, conlakappa

        But I don't know of any national crisis where we can't find good people to take prestigious appointments. I don't know this, but it wouldn't surprise me if Roberts is angling to repeal the ban on judges accepting speaking fees.

      •  A competitive wage for judges would mean (0+ / 0-)

        paying them far, far move than 217K, if your basis of comparison is the top-earning lawyers in private practice.

        40% of the Obama voters don't pay taxes. The dems retain power by keeping people dependent on hand-outs. -- From a post at

        by Kimball Cross on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:10:52 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Why do we expect (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        that legislators will be public-spirited enough to forego the big bucks of litigators, while expecting so much less of judges?

        40% of the Obama voters don't pay taxes. The dems retain power by keeping people dependent on hand-outs. -- From a post at

        by Kimball Cross on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:12:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Minimum wage. (9+ / 0-)

      Pay them all minimum wage and watch the minimum go up, up up!

    •  Agreed. I am a craftsman, working with my (9+ / 0-)

      brain, my hands, and my heart. It took me as long to perfect my trade as it does to become a lawyer or a judge. I'm lucky if I make $35,000.00 per year. So excuse me if I'm not all ga ga over Roberts, or any judge, making more money than they already do.

      Kenn Starr: still sniffing out panties - retroactively.

      by Rumarhazzit on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:14:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  But then the only people who can... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      afford to run for elections are the ultra rich. How can a farmer from Iowa afford to run for congress if he won't get a dramatic pay raise to pay for his airplane trips back and forth to Washington, his apartment in Washington, staff, offices in his district, etc, etc.

      "The only thing I would trust Dick Cheney on is if I had a dead hooker in my hotel room." --Jon Stewart

      by DemBrock on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 01:09:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I don't remember Roberts complaining about (14+ / 0-)

    SCOTUS salary and stipends during the confirmation process.

  •  Actually, I read that article today also, (13+ / 0-)

    and he's requesting the cost of living increase that all employees received except judges. This time, I don't think it was about him.

  •  Haha (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    drewfromct, second gen, futurebird

    maybe that's the problem with some of the supremes- competent people don't want to work for such a low salary.

  •  Don't Forget..... (10+ / 0-)

    ....The Supreme Court doesn't even meet for a full year! They have a nice long summer vacation and people to do the actual work for them. Plus, they like to walk away from the really tough cases. (I got that one from everybody's favorite lawyer, Ken Starr!) The bottom line is that he is afraid he's going to have to pay as much in taxes as the cleaning people. I agree with the post: RESIGN! I can't wait to see who Obama would pick for THAT job!

    •  Really. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      the ghost of bad dad

      You want the Supreme Court, as currently constituted, to hear more cases?

      •  Yes (0+ / 0-)

        I disagreed with Rehnquist when he started reducing their workload, and I haven't seen any reason to change that. The composition of the Court is regrettable, but they should be hearing more cases, since that's what we pay them to do.

      •  You're goddamned right!!! (0+ / 0-)

        What good is it for the SCOTUS judges to kvetch about every word in an eighty-page opinion when they NEVER take cases where the lower court judges told them to take a long walk off a short pier?

        Hell, some judges decide 50 cases in a two-hour session -- that's 200 cases a day.  It would take them 40 days to decide the approximately 8,000 petitions for cert.

        •  Having clerked for a couple of those judges (5+ / 1-)
          Recommended by:
          Joe Bob, Adam B, apdva, dedmonds, coffeetalk
          Hidden by:

          who decide 50 cases in a two-hour session, I can tell you that we do not want cases at the Supreme Court level decided with that level of scrutiny. It takes SCOTUS longer because they are doing much more in-depth and detailed work. As they should.  

          Is there any actual knowledge of the legal system underlying your non-stop bitching about it?

          January 20th can't get here soon enough.

          by NWTerriD on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 12:43:56 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Someone has to clean up YOUR sloth (0+ / 0-)

            The fundamental problem is that the vast majority of intermediate federal appeals are substantively decided by arrogant children who are spectacularly under-qualified to function as Article III judges.

            At the end of the day, the typical unpublished appellate opinion is more toxic than a Chinese Barbie doll. Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit famously described them as "inedible sausage," unfit for human consumption. This, in turn, begs the question attorney-blogger Philip Mann asks:

            In [Judge Kozinzki’s] words, "When the people making the sausage tell you it's not safe for human consumption, it seems strange indeed to have a committee in Washington tell people to go ahead and eat it anyway." True. But the real problem lies not with the committee but with the faulty sausage itself. If future litigants shouldn't have to consume the "sausage" of an ill-considered decision, why should the parties to that particular case have to eat it either?

            In the days of Learned Hand, thirty percent of civil appeals were successful; today, that number is down to ten.  Why?  Because the goddamn clerks don't even read the freakin' briefs, to say nothing of the judges.

            Again, you evaded the question, Counselor:

            What good is it for the SCOTUS judges to kvetch about every word in an eighty-page opinion when they NEVER take cases where the lower court judges told them to take a long walk off a short pier?

            There's not much point in having endless shelves of hidebound SCOTUS precedent if a cart-full of opinions directly on-point and a dollar won't get you a latte in either district court or the Court of Appeals.  Likewise, it is senseless for the Justices to write fifty drafts of a published opinion to get every word and nuance right if it is nothing more than a polite suggestion.

          •  uprated (0+ / 0-)

            to counter HR abuse (well, that plus I agree. but talk about HR abuse).

        •  I see that you do not have (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          the same level of self-restraint in your use of the Hide-rate button as I have.

          January 20th can't get here soon enough.

          by NWTerriD on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 01:51:33 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Obviously, I have a lot more than you do (0+ / 1-)
            Recommended by:
            Hidden by:

            You can't have any substantive real-world experience in the trenches and spew such ignorance.  As Monroe Freedman, one of the nation’s experts on judicial ethics, complained during a judicial conference:

            Frankly, I have had more than enough of judicial opinions that bear no relationship whatsoever to the cases that have been filed and argued before the judges. I am talking about judicial opinions that falsify the facts of the cases that have been argued, judicial opinions that make disingenuous use or omission of material authorities, judicial opinions that cover up these things with no-publication and no-citation rules.

            Any veteran appellate attorney knows what is wrong with our hopelessly broken legal system: Judges lavish attention on the cases they care about, granting only bulk-mail treatment to the unwashed masses. Every marginally competent judge is aware of this shocking state of affairs, and some are even willing to admit it in open court. Professor Sarah Ricks uncovered this remarkable exchange in a trial transcript:

            THE COURT: At a conference of the Third Circuit, the Court of Appeals defended their unpublished opinions on the ground that they’re not well reasoned, they don’t give them much thought. So it’s hard to say that that’s a well-reasoned opinion that has any precedential value.
            MR. WINEBRAKE: Well, we concede—
            THE COURT: It’s instructive on what they’ll do without much thought.

            How would you feel, Counselor, if you were on the receiving end of a poorly-reasoned decision that cost you your life or livelihood?  The kind of shit work you do because you can't be held personally to account for it gives the rest of us good reason to bitch.

            If I were you, I'd show a little more restraint before leveling unwarranted attacks on others.  That is the cause for the hide rating.

            •  HRed (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              because you have no notion of the work that NWTerriD does; your venom towards the legal system is obvious. You've no cause to take it out on NWTerriD because you disagree about the particulars of that system.

              I can tell you I've been less than impressed by your consistently specious reasoning in this entire discussion; you use single examples to extrapolate large conclusions about the legal system. This isn't sound logic, and your argumentative style will prevent people from hearing what good points you might make.

              •  Libenter homines id quod volunt credunt (0+ / 0-)

                First, NWTerriD fired the first ad hominem attack.

                Second, NWT admitted that she clerked for the kind of judges I was describing ... not exactly just being a piano player in a whorehouse.

                Third, if you examine my entire CV here (including a number of diaries on the topic of our hopelessly broken legal system), you'll see that I have more than a single example upon which to draw.  The claims I am making are both qualitatively and quantitatively demonstrable; legal scholars have hewn a well-marked path.  Scores of law review articles have explored the issues I raise, and some scholars openly wonder if we are still a common-law nation.  I can't lay out the entire damned case in every post.

                Also, the problem is systemic and structural -- if you give people power without accountability, they WILL abuse it.

                Apologists for our legal system tend to have agendas and will only see what they want to see; I don't have much control over that.  But if a judge can't figure out that it is improper for a judge to decide a case in which she is a proper party defendant in tort if other judges are authorized and available to hear it, then we should fire him and farm out our appellate work to India -- where they can do the work at least competently.

                •  I asked if you had knowledge. You, in turn, (0+ / 0-)

                  accused me of sloth and of working for substandard judges. Not exactly what I would call parity.

                  You were praising the trial court judges who decide a lot of cases in a short time, and criticizing SCOTUS for not doing the same. I informed you that [25 years ago] I clerked for trial court judges, and that the reason they can decide so many more cases in so much less time is that they are not doing the same level of research and analysis that the Supreme Court of the entire fucking nation does. This is as it should be. Our court system would grind to a complete halt if trial courts tried to treat every case the same way that the Supreme Court treats its cases.

                  You, forgetting that you had been praising the trial-court judges for their speed, then turned around and used the fact that I worked for a couple of trial courts as evidence of my "sloth."

                  Your reasoning on this point, as on most others in this thread, is specious. Your attack on my character was based on speculation on your part as well as on your having lost track of the thread of the argument. My criticism of your reasoning was based on your demonstrated lack of logic and lack of understanding of how the legal system works.

                  Apples and oranges.

                  I'm proud to be HR'd by you, as it suggests that my reasoning is sound.

                  January 20th can't get here soon enough.

                  by NWTerriD on Sat Jan 03, 2009 at 06:11:00 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

  •  Is he implying that the judiciary 'can be bought' (8+ / 0-)

    by questioning their 'independence' if they don't get a pay raise? Did I really read that in his quotes?

    Read it three times and still got the same impression.

    Mr. Corporate wins all the time judge is interesting. Can we please recall him?

    Not another dime to an out of state race until CA has equality for all. Period.

    by SallyCat on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 09:53:22 AM PST

  •  How much would it cost to get him to resign (8+ / 0-)

    his $217,400?

    I think we could raise the money.

    Barnacle Brains CEO's blame production line for failure.

    by 88kathy on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 09:53:25 AM PST

  •  Republicans REALLY have no self awareness. (15+ / 0-)

    "Judges knew what the pay was when they answered the call of public service. But they did not know that Congress would steadily erode that pay in real terms by repeatedly failing over the years to provide even cost-of-living increases," Roberts said.

    Here's a clue Malibu John; you're a fucking Republican! The chances of you getting a fair shake from the government your party wants to condemn the nation with is zero! Where the FUCK do you get off complaining about what the government isn't doing for you?

    Fuckity fuck fuck . . . What an absolute hypocrite.

  •  No. Sympathy. Whatsoever. (20+ / 0-)

    Justice Roberts' salary is roughly four times the annual wage in the United States.

    Perhaps the Justice needs to look for a lower-priced cell phone plan, or perhaps cut out the premium channels from his cable package?

    "I believe marriage is meant to be a sacred institution between two unwilling teenagers." - Sarah Palin/Tina Fey

    by Pacific NW Mark on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 09:54:08 AM PST

    •  So because Roberts is Chief Justice... (11+ / 0-)

      ...the whole federal judiciary shouldn't get cost-of-living salary increases like all other federal employees?

      Join the Matthew 25 Network and help Democrats win the next generation of evangelicals.

      by mistersite on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:13:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Apparently. (10+ / 0-)

        I do so love when dkos gets all fiery about evil lawyers and evil judges.  It's so refreshing.

        (rolls eyes)

        Hope you enjoyed it, Sarah, 'cause we just kicked your silly winking folksy lipsticked ass back to Alaska. Now shut the fuck up and stay there. Also.

        by Kaili Joy Gray on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:30:36 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  That is because on Kos (5+ / 0-)

          judges don't have kids, or coach Little League,or support their parents, or send their kids to college with the same problems that you and I have had, or pay for gas when it goes up, or pay their mortgages, or really worry about anything other than how to screw Kossacks.  So if their salaries effectively go down while they are on the bench it is only fair to ask them all to resign if they want to pay their bills and satisfy the commitments they made before Congress changed the rules. Because, you know, everything government does at all levels is really all their fault. ANd I really like a system where judges are worried about money too, it seems so fair. Likewise, all you people out there who are suffering should just get another job. Cripes.

          "These are the times that try men's souls."-- Thomas Paine

          by sniperfire on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:51:55 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yeah, bunch of whiners. (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Joe Bob, dedmonds, Argyrios, NWTerriD

            If people want to make more money, they should just quit their current jobs and go make more money.  


            Honestly, you'd think that a site that is so concerned about public service and fair pay and justice and all that feel-good stuff wouldn't be so fucking hostile to an entire profession of public service.

            Hope you enjoyed it, Sarah, 'cause we just kicked your silly winking folksy lipsticked ass back to Alaska. Now shut the fuck up and stay there. Also.

            by Kaili Joy Gray on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:00:45 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Assuming (0+ / 0-)

              when you speak of public service that you are referring to the latter and not the former in your (roll eyes) post?

              One flower is made of the whole cosmos. - Thich Nhat Hahn

              by Espumoso on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:10:25 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  ? (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Joe Bob, Argyrios, Toon

                There are both lawyers and judges who give up the opportunity to make huge sums of money to instead serve the public.

                There are also lawyers in private practice who make huge sums of money and still provide a very valuable service to those who need representation in the justice system.

                Hope you enjoyed it, Sarah, 'cause we just kicked your silly winking folksy lipsticked ass back to Alaska. Now shut the fuck up and stay there. Also.

                by Kaili Joy Gray on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:12:29 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I suppose (0+ / 0-)

                  my confusion, perhaps semantic, comes from your statement "so fucking hostile to an entire profession of public service" and wondering if the profession you referred to was lawyers, judges, or if those are the same profession in your opinion. In my opinion, although both are under the rubric of the "legal profession" they are different professions from my seat.

                  With respect to public service, in any grouping of persons/professions you will find examples of persons who could be deemed public servants; thus this characteristic is obviously in no way unique to the legal profession.

                  Now considering my original confusion, I would regard judges (as well as public defenders, prosecutors, etc), as a whole, fitting the definition of public service. Private attorneys, in contrast, I do not consider to fall into the category of public servant, despite the fact that they indeed perform a vital, private service to many.

                  One flower is made of the whole cosmos. - Thich Nhat Hahn

                  by Espumoso on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 12:41:30 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

        •  I think the adverse reaction (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          conlakappa, Toon

          is more about greedy people who already have plenty of money whining about not getting more than it is about "evil" lawyers and judges in particular.  

          •  Like the story, you mean? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Because that's quite obviously not what the actual story is, despite the grossly misleading title of this diary.

            Hope you enjoyed it, Sarah, 'cause we just kicked your silly winking folksy lipsticked ass back to Alaska. Now shut the fuck up and stay there. Also.

            by Kaili Joy Gray on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:59:25 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  As long as he waits till after 1/20 to resign! nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  J. Roberts: Public service has its price (4+ / 0-)

    Of course, you could make arrangements on the side, using that big neo-con brain of yers, Jackass.  Maybe you could ask Exxon for a percentage of what you saved them on that punitive damages award you struck on the Valdez-thingee, A-hole.

    And further of course, the diarist is right, maybe there are better places to serve the interests of big business than using the Supreme Court.  Get there.

    Of the people, by the people, for the people.

    by Publius2008 on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 09:55:49 AM PST

  •  SCOTUS doesn't get enough. (9+ / 0-)

    That must be why Justice Thomas almost never speaks in their deliberations.  He just can't bring himself to work for a job that just isn't paying him what he's worth.


    •  I was in grad school with someone who ran (0+ / 0-)

      into him at Costco.  Costco!  He's doing what he can to live within his meager means, okay!!!  And I'm sure Ginny is taking a salary of like a dollar to work at Heritage.

  •  he may have a point (6+ / 0-)

    if it was Ginsburgh or Stevens making the same argument would we dismiss it so easily.

    After Obama's eighth straight victory, Penn told reporters: "Winning Democratic primaries is not a qualification or a sign of who can win the general election.

    by nevadadem on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 09:57:21 AM PST

  •  Poor baby. Now he can only afford (3+ / 0-)

    3 cars instead of 4, and 7 days in Hawaii instead of 4. My heart goes out to the Roberts Family.


  •  I'd agree with you if he's just complaining (10+ / 0-)

    about his own compensation; many good lawyers would gladly take his job for free.  But if he's sticking up for your everyday federal judge - and it sounds like he is - that's a different story.  $170K is not exactly a windfall for the level of responsibility -- and some physical danger - the job entails combined with the technical knowledge required to perform the job well.  I think a COLA is certainly justified.

    •  asdf (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      relentless, drewfromct, red 83, conlakappa

      When working class wages are dropping and middle class wages are flat why should the highest earning 5% get more money? Don't tie his wage to COLA, tie it to how well the average American is doing. That way, to whatever extent his wage influences his work it skews toward benefiting the average American.

      •  That would be an inappropriate basis (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joe Bob, tomhodukavich, Argyrios

        for him to use in deciding cases. The question the Court is supposed to answer is what the governing law -- statutory or constitutional -- says.

        The people who are supposed to consider what benefits the average American are legislators. Different role in government.

        And why should judges be the exception if all other federal employees are getting COLA increases?

        January 20th can't get here soon enough.

        by NWTerriD on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 12:50:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Private sector Justices do so much better. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    drewfromct, tommymet
  •  How will Sam Alito's wife (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Agathena, snazzzybird, Kimball Cross

    afford those ritzy Barcalounger fashions? Now we know the real reason she was crying.

    Some days I don't know if I suffer from depression or if everything just sucks.

    by The Gryffin on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 09:58:30 AM PST

  •  Actually, this is an annual (15+ / 0-)

    exercise for the CJ, who is also the head of the Judicial Branch.  Rehnquist also complained, but the thrust of the complaint is not about the SCOTUS salaries, but rather the salaries of lower Federal judges.  A Federal District Court Judge makes about what a first-year associate in a NY law firm makes.  

    That being said, this is atrocious timing for anyone in government, least of all someone who makes a 6-figure salary, to complain about salary levels.

    I am for the individual over government, government over big business and the environment over all -- William O. Douglas

    by Its the Supreme Court Stupid on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 09:58:56 AM PST

  •  Guillotine, guillotine! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    This week's Guillotine Index. Hey, I need the mojo!

    The only "freedom in Christ" for a follower of Rick Warren is the freedom to be a Good German.

    by The Werewolf Prophet on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 09:59:23 AM PST

    •  It is rude to the diarist, and against site rules (0+ / 0-)

      to pimp an unrelated diary in a diary. That is partly what the Open Threads are for. Granted, your diary is about people reacting to a money crisis and this one is about COLA increases for judges, but they really aren't related in theme or point made.

      So I can't rec you here, but since you're desperate for mojo I weakly succumbed in your actual diary. [snark! attacking dead ahead] Please don't make me make such a two-faced choice again. Friends don't set up choices that tempt friends into hypocrisy. [/snark alert]

      "Dialogue is good, sometimes even productive, but if you do not believe in equality, then you are not of this tribe." -swampus

      by davidincleveland on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 01:47:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Stevens has made similar statements (11+ / 0-)

    And I think it's a reasonable gripe.

    Schadenfreude ist die schönste Freude.

    by InsultComicDog on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:00:11 AM PST

    •  I don't think it's reasonable to gripe that (4+ / 0-)

      $217,000 a year is an unfair salary for one of the world's most powerful jobs, especially considering all of the perks that come with the job.

      •  For SCOTUS? Sure. (5+ / 0-)

        But as is noted above, Roberts isn't just representing SCOTUS as Chief Justice, but the entire federal judiciary.  If we want the best people to go into the lower levels of the judiciary - which is increasingly becoming the only politically-acceptable route to the upper levels of the judiciary - we're going to need to pay them competitively.

        Join the Matthew 25 Network and help Democrats win the next generation of evangelicals.

        by mistersite on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:06:57 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I have heard that argument before and I don't (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          maxalb, maxxdogg, HylasBrook

          buy it. If someone's primary motivation for being in a high position like that is monetary, they shouldn't be in the job. The primary motive of every public servant should be to serve the public good.

          •  But even those people (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Adam B, musing85, futurebird

            need to pay the bills, and take care of their families. Do they get any extra allowance if they're in a really expensive area? That $170k would be perfectly adequate in Detroit, or most of the mid west, or most areas in the South.

            But it would barely keep you above water in NYC, or LA, or SF, or DC.

            Maybe that's the answer - the same % increases all govt employees get, and an adjustment if you're in what's certified as a high cost area.

            They do it for the military, IIRC.

            •  I live in Los Angeles. (10+ / 0-)

              We live in a nice apartment. We have an HDTV. We have two laptops, internet, lots of amenities. Right now, I don't have a job (haven't in months) and my wife makes a lowish-level government salary. Our income is a fraction of $170,000 and we live very comfortably.

              Sorry, that's not a good argument.

              •  Yes, but many of these judges (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                as a partner would be pulling in a million - two million dollars a year if they were a partner at a major law firm.

                That's a lot to turn away from in the name of public service -- and they aren't like Executive or Legislative branch officials who can and do jump into the private sector to make a lot of money in between gigs (see, for example, Eric Holder or Rahm Emmanuel)

                •  Honest question (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  IANAL and wonder about the workload of the two positions.

                  I do understand that being a partner at a major firm where one would take home 1-2M annually is a very difficult, stressful, many, many hours a week position. Not to mention the time and effort required to become a partner at such firms.

                  Is the workload and stress of a lifetime appointed, federal judge anywhere near that of a partner in a major firm?

                  Also, what is the value of the job security and post-retirement bennies of a federal judge worth relative to a partner in a major firm?

                  One flower is made of the whole cosmos. - Thich Nhat Hahn

                  by Espumoso on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:58:18 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  That doesn't mean (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  fiddlingnero, Toon

                  as a partner would be pulling in a million - two million dollars a year if they were a partner at a major law firm

                  that judges are necessarily underpaid, but better underlines how much much lawyers are overpaid. The so-called free" market is seriously out of whack, and it's long past time to bring it into line.

                  Al Qeada is a faith-based initiative.

                  by drewfromct on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:00:08 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  If so, are they without assets and savings? (0+ / 0-)

                  If these folks have been raking in the big bucks for many years, might we not safely assume that they are fairly well fixed by now?  Many individuals are willing to take a hit in salary to work for the Federal Government.  Are judges without such tender sentiments?

                  Are lawyers and judges just all about money, keeping up with their peers in that regard?  Is that what the legal profession has become?  If so, something is very, very wrong with our society.

                  •  That's the problem (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Joe Bob, dburbach, dharmafarmer

                    is that right now, people who want federal judgeships, are either people like Roberts who have made millions in private practice (often with big corporate law firms) or political hacks.  Many of the really good lawyers make a lot more than federal judges, but not the millions that the Wall Street firms make, and therefore don't want to see their annual salaries cut in half  (or even more on a permanent basis in order to be a federal district court judge. If you are 40 years old, and can spend the next 25 years making $300,000 or $400,000 a year, or making $167,000 a year, that's a significant, significant difference, and the vast majority of people are not going to make that financial "sacrifice" (yes, I know $167,000 is not a "sacrifice").  The pool of applicants leaves out a very very significant number of people who would make some of our best judges.  

                    •  Power (0+ / 0-)

                      Every time a judgeship has an opening there are dozens, if not hundreds, of applicants.  It is about the power, not the money.

                      •  Sure, but who are they? (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        I once had a state court judge brag that, after his first year of law school, he was literally last in his law school class. Not close to last -- last. And he stayed that way.  He said that the dean counseled him to drop out and do something else, as he wasn't cut out to be a lawyer. He said he refused -- "I told him I'll stick it out."  then, he bragged, "Now, here I am -- a judge!"  Do you think that inspired a lot of confidence in my client (who heard this) that a smart, hard-working guy was deciding his case?  How would you feel about going in to brain surgery and have the surgeon brag to you, before the surgery, that he was last in his medical school class, that he was encouraged to drop out, but here he is, with your life in his hands?  

                        •  Law School Smart (0+ / 0-)

                          doesn't necessarily translate into courtroom smart.

                          And at least here in Minnesota we have a fairly rigorous judicial selection process.  I'd guess that most sitting judges in our state were not the top performers in their law school classes.  But they gained enough respect in their careers through hard work and ethical behavior to be appointed to the bench.

                •  Or even Deval Patrick (0+ / 0-)

                  who made zillions as General Counsel (like the third highest person) at Texaco and Coke after leaving the Clinton Justice Department.  

                  Too often, the only lawyers we see who go into public service are those like Patrick or Eric Holder who spent enough time in those really, really big paying jobs (millions) so as to not care what the salary is in the public sector.  They jump from public sector to big paying job and back.  That leaves out a lot of lawyers, unfortunately, who are making very good salaries -- several hundred thousand, but not the millions made by Holder or Patrick or people like Greg Craig or John Roberts -- who are not willing to see their salary cut in half, or even to a third, on a permanent basis (a judgeship is a lifetime appointment) in order to take a position with the judiciary.  

                •  The answer is not to raise judge's pay, (0+ / 0-)

                  its to lower the insanely high income of the top 3% by rescinding the Reagan tax cuts. The problem isn't that judges need 10x as the average person, its that there's a loss of status compared to the high income lawyers that appear before them and a risk of corruption as their peers tempt them with the toys available to people with lots of spare cash.

              •  So a federal judge should live an equivalent (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                lifestyle as you?

                Lets see...

                Valedictorian in High School...Check
                Graduate top of undergraduate class....check
                Graduate near the top of Harvard/Yale/NYU law.....check.
                Clerk for Federal Judge/Supreme Court Justice....check
                Become and associate at high power law firm like Bois, Schiller, and Flexner...check
                Become Partner nad finally reach financial independence....check.

                Become a Federal Judge and move into tiny apt. with HDTV and two laptops....WE HAVE MADE THE BIGTIME.

          •  The public good won't put kids through college. (6+ / 0-)

            The public good can't pay off law school debts, particularly for the better (and pricier) law schools.

            The public good can't be saved for retirement.

            Why shouldn't we reward public servants competitively with the private sector?  Do federal judges at all levels not deserve a cost-of-living increase in their salaries?

            Join the Matthew 25 Network and help Democrats win the next generation of evangelicals.

            by mistersite on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:17:32 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Then don't complain when... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dburbach, dharmafarmer, NWTerriD

            ...the people who define the notion of "the public good" turn out mostly to be the scions of the rich.

            (Aristotle made this observation a very, very long time ago: measures that deprive positions of public honour and participation of monetary compensation will encourage aristocratic/oligarchic forces and weaken democratic/populist forces, since they will tend to encourage disproportionate participation by the rich over the poor.)

          •  Salaries matter, even for the public sector (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Joe Bob

            If someone's primary motivation for being in a high position like that is monetary, they shouldn't be in the job.

            True, but no matter how much a job might be attractive, sometimes the financial sacrifice required to take the job means that the choice isn't justifiable. A good teacher in a suburban district can make good money with 20 years of experience. Should that teacher take a pay cut for the privilege of working in a poorer school district, if the teacher's skills were needed there? Or should we leave those jobs to teachers with less experience and fewer future financial prospects?

            You should worry a lot more about the fact that for some judges, the primary motivation is monetary: they might be looking at the judiciary because they can't find a job paying them a comparable salary, because they're underqualified, while their potential competition is uninterested in taking the judgeship because the financial sacrifices required don't make any sense. Right now, the judiciary is running on the appeal of prestige. That's nice and everything, but the irrational appeal of prestige only goes so far.

            Too many of us liberals have an irrational fear of money: we believe that if the cause is righteous enough, the money shouldn't matter. The truth is, however, that if you want to find top talent, you have to pay for it, because if you don't, someone else will.

        •  When people start turning the gigs down, the (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LuvSet, Arken, maxalb, conlakappa

          "best people" argument might make more sense.

          •  That problem does exist (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            tosser, dharmafarmer

            at the District Court level.  Not at the Supreme Court level, of course.  Those people have already made their millions.  

            •  It exists on the federal level (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              tosser, coffeetalk

              in some types of courts, as well.  Several years ago, the federal bankruptcy court in our district received funding to fill a couple jurist positions that had been allotted to the district many years prior.  Let's just say that the attorneys most experienced in complex corporate reorganizations and liquidations chose to remain in the private sector and didn't/couldn't/wouldn't consider those positions - where, ironically, today their caliber of experience is especially needed.

    •  At this time, no one wants to hear a single (17+ / 0-)

      whine from anyone making that salary. Cops, teachers, etc. are taking pay or hours cuts, having their wages frozen, or in the case of CA, may be getting IOUs on payday soon.

    •  No one held a gun to their heads (9+ / 0-)

      and forced them to take a SCOTUS job, or any federal job for that matter -- sometimes you have to choose between mere wealth and serving your country. And for many federal employees, the lower salary is equalled by a lot more job security than in the private sector.

      "Once you choose hope, anything's possible." ~Christopher Reeve

      by Cali Scribe on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:06:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  In another year, maybe. Not this year. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      No one is giving me any guarantee that I will make as much as I did last year, or the year before, or ten years ago.  Life is uncertain.

      And I can tell you for certain that no one is promising me that I am going to get a raise this year.  To make this request, now, is strikingly tone deaf.

      It may have merits, but if it did not resonate in prior years it is illogical to bring it up this year in order to help us learn whether our eyes can still roll.  They can.

    •  This was the C-SPAN video (0+ / 0-)

      Schadenfreude ist die schönste Freude.

      by InsultComicDog on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:05:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Congress should order a symbolic 5% pay cut (7+ / 0-)

    across the board for all government employees above a certain level in all three branches.

  •  Most judges..... (11+ / 0-)

    ....don't take the job for the pay. They take it because they are already very successful, because they appreciate the honor, and because as demanding as it is, it is usually less demanding than the job they leave to become a judge.

    Tonight I'm going to party like it's 1929.

    by Bensdad on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:03:47 AM PST

    •  A good percentage of them like playing god too (5+ / 0-)

      I think that's a motivation for taking the job.

      A learning experience is one of those things that says, 'You know that thing you just did? Don't do that.' Douglas Adams

      by dougymi on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:07:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Really? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dedmonds, futurebird

        Can you back that up with any, you know, facts?

        Hope you enjoyed it, Sarah, 'cause we just kicked your silly winking folksy lipsticked ass back to Alaska. Now shut the fuck up and stay there. Also.

        by Kaili Joy Gray on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:33:02 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Just anecdotes (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          from way back when I took classes in criminal justice.  

          Do you doubt it? Do you really think that all judges are in it for purely altruistic reasons? Do judges have no egos?  Are they perfect humans who only do things for the common good?

          Talk about naive...

          A learning experience is one of those things that says, 'You know that thing you just did? Don't do that.' Douglas Adams

          by dougymi on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 12:16:04 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I see. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            For the record, I never said that "all judges are in it for purely altruistic reasons."  But you did say that a "good percentage of them like playing god" and that's "a motivation for taking the job."

            But far be it from me naive little me to question the statistical relevance of your anecdotal evidence.

            Hope you enjoyed it, Sarah, 'cause we just kicked your silly winking folksy lipsticked ass back to Alaska. Now shut the fuck up and stay there. Also.

            by Kaili Joy Gray on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 12:19:05 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I believe that a good percentage do. You don't. (0+ / 0-)

              Neither of us know what motivates a judge. You don't have statistical proof that most judges are altruistic individuals that put the common good above their own predilections either, or do you?  

              A learning experience is one of those things that says, 'You know that thing you just did? Don't do that.' Douglas Adams

              by dougymi on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 12:24:25 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I'm not the one smearing an entire profession. (5+ / 0-)

                I think the burden is on you, my friend, to back up your accusations.  

                Hope you enjoyed it, Sarah, 'cause we just kicked your silly winking folksy lipsticked ass back to Alaska. Now shut the fuck up and stay there. Also.

                by Kaili Joy Gray on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 12:25:55 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  That plus (0+ / 0-)

                  you can't prove a negative; that is to say that you can't prove people aren't taking it because they want to play god. Even if you show lots of examples of altruists, you haven't disproven his assertion.

                  So yea, dougymi, the onus is on you to prove your assertion. Not the other way around.

              •  Doug.... (0+ / 0-)

                ....if that is your name. :)

                I have a lot of experiences with judges. Tons. Each brings something very different to the job. They tend to be very smart, outgoing, and successful. They almost all are able to keep a poker face, are not easily ruffled, are skillful at avoiding entanglements and have an excellent demeanor, projecting fairness. Of the hundreds I have known (many very closely), I can count on the fingers of one hand the ones who enjoyed the "power" of the bench more than the prestige. While as a litigant or a defendant, the judge may seem all powerful, in point of fact we have a pretty good system that restrains that power. If they are wrong, they may get reversed. If they openly display a lust for powerful it will be noticed and that will be reflected in reversals and they may even get thrown off the bench. In other words, I have to say that as a rule they do not lust for power.

                As a rule, they have HAD power and are relinquishing that for prestige.

                Judges are generally great people. If not great, they are generally extraordinary.

                Tonight I'm going to party like it's 1929.

                by Bensdad on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 04:00:01 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  In my experience.... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dharmafarmer, Angry Mouse, unertl

        ...such people are generally selected out from the position. I have seen very few of them relish their power, which is actually constrained by the law itself. They know that.

        Tonight I'm going to party like it's 1929.

        by Bensdad on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:40:41 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  There may be a fair argument to make that (0+ / 0-)

      federal judges should make more money, based on the demands of the job, living expenses, etc.  

      However, the argument that salaries should be increased to attract "The Best And The Brightest" doesn't make much sense.

      While there are, no doubt, many impressive legal talents who opt for private practice rather than public service for monetary reasons, I find it doubtful that many of them would change their career choices if the public pay were a higher small fraction of what they'd make at a private firm.

      As you note, people don't go into the federal judiciary for money, they go into it for prestige(and power).    

  •  I'm getting about $9/hr; I'll take his job! (13+ / 0-)

    I have a law degree.  I'm also pro-choice and very pro-civil rights (including gay marriage). Pick me, Mr. Obama!

    Insert delirious and/or derisive laughter here.  I don't care if it's at me or at Roberts -- ok, maybe it'd be better to laugh at Roberts.

    -7.13, -6.97 Does Joe Lieberman have some dirt on Senate Democrats? Embarrassing pictures?

    by klamothe on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:04:19 AM PST

  •  Doesn't Roberts believe in the free market? (14+ / 0-)

    I'm sure that if he steps down, thousands of lawyers would be happy to take his job.

    The Detroit "Lions". 2008 NFL Pre-Season Champions.

    by Dump Terry McAuliffe on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:07:21 AM PST

  •  In the private sector (5+ / 0-)

    as a partner of a major law firm, Roberts would make much more money.

    If money is what is important to him...he should go for it.

  •  I've heard (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    davidincleveland, coffeetalk

    Justice Breyer say the same thing.

  •  Inflation is at 0% people. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SallyCat, drewfromct, timba, maxalb, conlakappa

    Give him his nonexistent pay raise tied to inflation.  By next year he will be receiving a DECREASE in pay as we enter stagflation.  In fact if he's serious, then he should be willing to take a 45% pay cut like the rest of Americans have in their 401K's.

  •  My tiny violin goes out to Roberts... (6+ / 0-)

    If he resigns because of his wage, please let it be after Jan 20, so Obama can appoint the Chief Justice position to someone else.

    •  POOR JUDGE ROBERTS! (0+ / 0-)

      I completely agree with his justiceness.  Such piffulous* pay is shameful!  He shouldn't put up with it!  You go judgie!  You're too good for these assclowns!  Pick up yer toys and go home, just quit and let Prez Hussein find some other fool to toil for such crappy wages!

      (Oh God please let him quit!  Could it be possible that he is stupid enough?)

      *- piffulous (adj.) meager, small, unsubstantial; used to describe poor wages.  First coined by Theodore (Dr. Seuss) Geisel.

      Say it loud, say it proud, "I voted for the black guy."

      by ruleoflaw on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 01:04:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Isn't the issue of the day deflation? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SallyCat, Toon

    Maybe congress should accomodate him...

    Either this sentence is false, or I am a toad.

    by rb137 on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:13:20 AM PST

  •  The federal judiciary pay crisis has gotten (4+ / 0-)

    so bad that Judge Thomas has had to cut back on his porn habit.  He's cancelled all his internet subscriptions and gone back to his old "Long Dong Silver" VHS tapes.

  •  Roberts makes a fair point (5+ / 0-)

    As the article says, every other federal employee will get a COLA this year, including Congress. Why not the judiciary?

    I'm just a computer scientist for the fed. gov., but like judges who could make exponentially more in private industry so could I. I work for the federal govt. because 1. I like my job, 2. I like other intangible benefits. But one thing I don't like is unfair treatment. I would be extremely pissed if Congress gave a COLA to another agency but not to mine. And that is a large part of Roberts point - the rest of the fed. govt. is getting a COLA, why not the judiciary? Not fair, IMO. And I despise Roberts and his judicial views, but he is right on this.

    "Every Pootie is a masterpiece." - Da Vinci

    by mdsiamese on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:21:59 AM PST

    •  because EVERYONE else is either being laid (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      off outright or being asked to take a pay CUT or involuntary non-paid vacation. People whose jobs are dependent on the market. Congress should not only deny itself its pay raise, it should give itself a pay cut. Just like everyone else (except Wall St thieves) is doing. And the rest shouldn't get the COLA increase this year.

  •  clerks get paid what? (4+ / 0-)

    and do most of the heavy lifting.

    "There are many truths of which the full meaning cannot be realized until personal experience has brought it home." John Stuart Mill

    by kuvasz on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:24:17 AM PST

  •  A couple of points (13+ / 0-)

    Roberts is not talking about himself.  He made a zillion dollars in private practice and is pretty much set for life, which is why the salary doesn't matter so much to him.  He's talking mostly for the district court judges, and the appellate court judges.  I know everybody here hates him personally, but unfortunately, he's the CJ and one of the administrative roles of the CJ is to advocate for the judicial branch, of which he is the head.  That's why it's him and not Stevens or Ginsburg, although I'm sure they agree with him on this point. In fact, Stevens has made the point on a couple of occasions.  

    The problem is that you want the best and the brightest to be a federal judge.  And salaries for federal judges are nowhere near what the best and the brightest can earn in the private sector.  Didn't Eric Holder earn a couple million at Covington for those years he was out of government? Greg Craig probably makes a couple million a year.  Unfortunately, the "best and the brightest" almost always financially are steered toward these kinds of corporate mega firms.  The gap in income between mega firms and a public sector job is just too huge.  Those who do pick public sector jobs often choose it just as a way to get experience that's going to help with a big pay day later.  If you're in Main Justice in DC fo a few years, it opens plenty of doors for big paying corporate law firm jobs after.  

    It's just a fact that, for many of these judges, their law clerks -- who come to them for a year or two right out of law school -- will, right after leaving them, go to a private law firm and earn more than the judge does.  That's especially true for those who come out of top notch schools like Stanford, Harvard, Yale.  The exact kind of people that you want as federal judges would be taking a huge, huge, huge financial hit to become one.  Too often I see that the only people who want a federal judgeship (especially district court) are those who already have made zillions in private practice (like Roberts) and therefore don't care about what they make.  

    I'm not advocating for huge financial salaries for federal judges.  Just raise it enough so that some of the best and brightest can feel like it's a good alternative to those big corporate firms.  I want those who are the smartest, the best, at what they do to think the judicial branch of government is a good alternative to private practice.  

    •  So just to be clear (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      if you look at this from the typical Republican/conservative perspective when analyzing salary and benefits of union members vs. non-union, then the problem is that private practice lawyers make way too much money and need to have their income and perks slashed to match judges, right?

      Democracy is a contact sport...

      by jsmagid on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:32:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  How are you going to do that? (0+ / 0-)

        Here in New Orleans, for example, the richest of the rich lawyers are plaintiffs lawyers who made zillions of dollars from big disasters.  Before he died, Wendell Gauthier was probably the richest lawyer here. How do you limit what he made?  The rich corporate lawyers are in private law firms like Greg Craig -- do you limit what they can charge their clients?  How do you do that without also limiting what other overpaid people (like Brad Pitt and A-Rod) make?  The third category of overpaid lawyers are people like Deval Patrick, who parlayed his Clinton justice experience into huge, huge salaries as General Counsel of Texaco and then General Counsel at Coke.  (General Counsel is like one of the top three officers at a big corporation like that -- you have the CEO, the CFO -- Chief Financial Office -- and General Counsel.)  How do you limit what he made?  

        •  Very simple (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          same way you curb executive pay - you reinstate much higher income tax brackets for truly high incomes as existed before Reagan got his hands on the tax code.

          Of course I should have included a minor snark warning - mostly I was pointing out the complete stupidity of right-wing attacks on unions that all too many "regular" folk have bought into. The problem isn't that union members benefits are too good - it's that most workers are getting royally screwed.

          That said, the answer is in fact to be found in a more progressive tax code. The top marginal capital gains tax rate is way too low as is the top marginal income tax rate. The level at which substantially higher rates kick in can be very high - well at least from where I'm sitting, say $5MM or $10MM. There is just way too much to be gained, after taxes, for senior executives not to stuff their pockets full of cash while worker salaries trail lower.

          Democracy is a contact sport...

          by jsmagid on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 01:03:42 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  That doesn't solve the problem (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Joe Bob

            The problem is not the Supreme Court.  Those guys get all sorts of perks and speaking fees.  You never have a shortage of good lawyers for the Surpeme Court.

            The problem is the District Court.  Like somebody said above, a good divorce attorney can make more than $169,000 a year.  Those positions come from local lawyers.  Take someone who is very smart (did well in law school, for example) and is very hard working, which is the combination that you want in a federal judge.  If that person is a partner in a law firm outside of NY, or DC, or is a good plainitiff's lawyer, or a good criminal defense attorney, that person might be making $300,000, $400,000 or $500,000 a year. That's the kind of person you want for a federal judgeship.  But it is very tough for that person to say I'm going to cut my salary to 1/2, or 1/3, for the rest of my life.

            So, unless you propose confiscatory tax rates down to those levels, where you'll pick up doctors, lots of local lawyers, small business owners, some CPA's, some engineers, you don't solve the problem.  

            •  Mea culpa (0+ / 0-)

              I was not trying to address the issue of financial incentives for obtaining quality judges, but if I must, I'll give it a try.

              You don't need 75 or 80% tax rates at $300 - $500K income ranges. You do need 38-40% rates though. It wouldn't hurt to deal with the reason why a lot of mediocre lawyers, mostly corporate of course, make so much money, though I admit that may be harder still than raising tax rates for the top 5% of income earners. There are huge amounts of money at stake in the result of legal proceedings and while a more rational tax structure with fewer system gaming opportunities would probably help some I don't know quite what might help a lot.

              Even so, the usual justification for lower salaries in government jobs is better benefits, much greater employment stability, (more) regular/normal-sized work hours and plain old public spirit. Salaries can't be too far behind the private sector, but they don't need parity either.

              So, in summary, the answer is to attack the problem from both ends. Rational tax policy to ratchet down ridiculously high private sector salaries together with reasonable increases in salaries for judges at lower echelons where the prestige fails to make up for the financial disparity and ensuring sufficient number of judges to keep the work load at a reasonable level.

              Harping back to my original comment for a minute, my intent was/is to point out that Roberts has handed us a nice opportunity to spit back some GOP propaganda in their faces, one that we should take advantage of, not instead of dealing honestly with the issue, but in addition to.

              Democracy is a contact sport...

              by jsmagid on Fri Jan 02, 2009 at 12:53:03 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  Thank you for being a voice of reason. (6+ / 0-)

      The hostility toward the legal profession gets really ugly around here sometimes.

      My grandfather is a federal judge who left his partnership at major New York law firm about 25 years ago.  Per his calculations, he would have made about $250 million if he hadn't left.  That's quite a substantial amount of money to walk away from for the purpose of public service.

      Hope you enjoyed it, Sarah, 'cause we just kicked your silly winking folksy lipsticked ass back to Alaska. Now shut the fuck up and stay there. Also.

      by Kaili Joy Gray on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:43:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Okay, but he made a choice, right? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        What are we supposed to do?  Compensate him for the salary he let go when he became a judge?  Why did he become a judge?  as an act of masochism, or because there were personal satisfactions in that job that were more important to him than money?

        Money is great stuff, but do we worship it?  I have made lots of decisions that did not pay me as much as other paths, but which meant more to me.  Should I dwell on the path not taken, the income not received?  Or should I not focus on having lived the life I preferred, taking the good and the bad as part of the price of that choice?

        •  I'm not saying that at all. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mdsiamese, futurebird, NWTerriD

          I have never heard my grandfather complain about his income (or lack of income).  He is humbled and honored to have been chosen to serve in the federal judiciary.  He takes that honor very seriously.

          But does that mean he's never entitled to a salary adjustment?

          Hope you enjoyed it, Sarah, 'cause we just kicked your silly winking folksy lipsticked ass back to Alaska. Now shut the fuck up and stay there. Also.

          by Kaili Joy Gray on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:18:08 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  He could make more money in the private sector... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    musicalhair, maxalb, trumpeter

    ...and hopefully he'll avail himself of all the jobs prospects available to him.

  •  Great! He should quit an go make more $$$. n/t (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    musicalhair, maxalb, trumpeter
  •  Federal judges are underpaid, (9+ / 0-)

    and I find this diary to be offensive to those devoted women and men who opt for public service instead of the  privste sector. Whether they are liberal or conservative, those judges deserve our praise and appropriate inflation and cost-of-living salary adjustments.

    •  Agreed. (6+ / 0-)

      But then, this site can get pretty hostile toward the entire legal profession.  


      Hope you enjoyed it, Sarah, 'cause we just kicked your silly winking folksy lipsticked ass back to Alaska. Now shut the fuck up and stay there. Also.

      by Kaili Joy Gray on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:34:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Why? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        fiddlingnero, NWTerriD

        this site can get pretty hostile toward the entire legal profession.  

        This site is merely a small segment of an entire society which has serious and legitimate grievances with the legal profession, imho. perhaps our legal professionals should take a long look in the mirror and ask themselves what they've done for our society to deserve such contempt.

        Al Qeada is a faith-based initiative.

        by drewfromct on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:11:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah, that's a fair question. (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          apdva, drewfromct, dharmafarmer, Argyrios

          What exactly has the entire legal profession done to deserve such contempt?

          I'm not denying there are some pretty reprehensible people out there in the legal profession, but there are in every profession.  I'm sure you'd find plenty of reprehensible UAW folks out there if you wanted.  

          But for some reason, it's considered acceptable to totally smear an entire profession, and every member of it, on this site and yes, in the greater society as a whole.

          Hope you enjoyed it, Sarah, 'cause we just kicked your silly winking folksy lipsticked ass back to Alaska. Now shut the fuck up and stay there. Also.

          by Kaili Joy Gray on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:16:25 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            for acknowledging the fairness of the issue. That said, lawyers get a worse rap than other professionals due, again, imho, to the enormous sway they hold over our society. How many "reprehensible" UAW workers make decisions that affect so many of us? Are not the vast majority of legislators lawyers? Look at the laws they write to govern us. Look at how self-serving they are, and how they've effectively insulated the rich and powerful from having to abide by these laws that they impose on the rest of us.

            Good lawyers, it seems, help a few of us, while the bad lawyers seem to screw all of us. Why does it seem as though the bad lawyers so vastly outnumber the good?

            Al Qeada is a faith-based initiative.

            by drewfromct on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:26:14 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  My question was snark. (5+ / 0-)

              There are millions of lawyers in the country.  Most of them are not legislators.  They do not hold enormous sway over our lives.  They do not "screw all of us."  They are working professionals, like any other working professionals.  They provide a necessary service to people who need help.  Yes, they charge for their time.  Are they supposed to give it away for free?

              Hope you enjoyed it, Sarah, 'cause we just kicked your silly winking folksy lipsticked ass back to Alaska. Now shut the fuck up and stay there. Also.

              by Kaili Joy Gray on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:31:21 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yes, they are (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                dharmafarmer, Angry Mouse

                supposed to give it away for free. 50 hours a year is the standard for pro bono recommended in the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, iirc.

                What is amazing is that an industry that chooses to regulate itself to earn less than what they could in the free market gets such a bad rap. What other profession is EXPECTED to give free service?

                •  Well, that's a good point. (5+ / 0-)

                  My husband just finished writing an appeal for an indigent California prisoner.  He will be paid $80/hr by the State of California -- but that's only up to a certain number of "approved" hours.  Which means that even though he spent about 220 hours working on the appeal, he will only have about 80 of those hours approved and paid.

                  Sure, it's noble work, but it also sucks that most of his time isn't paid.

                  Can you imagine the uproar if, say, UAW workers were expected to work any hours for free?  (I use them as an example because this site was pretty adamant about protecting them a few weeks ago.)

                  And then, of course, there's the standard practice of simply writing off hours.  Sure, the client signs an agreement to pay x amount, but then they bitch and moan about the size of their bill, and the partners say, "Well, okay, since you think that's too much, you only have to pay part of it."

                  Try pulling that stunt next time you're buying milk in the supermarket.

                  Hope you enjoyed it, Sarah, 'cause we just kicked your silly winking folksy lipsticked ass back to Alaska. Now shut the fuck up and stay there. Also.

                  by Kaili Joy Gray on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 12:13:45 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

          •  framing and blaming (5+ / 0-)

            Somehow, somebody has managed to succeed at framing lawyers as something for people to vent their own frustrations on, the same as "liberals". It seems to me that society always wants a scapegoat. If people can't blame a race or religion, they will blame a profession or political group. Those damn liberals in Congress, those damn blood-sucking lawyers, etc. We do it too, though. Those damn republicans.

            I blame Shakespeare. "First, let's kill all the lawyers." He gave lawyer-haters a great quote to take out of context and use as spin.

            I'm not a lawyer btw, but after studying a little bit of law I have a lot of respect for anyone that can get through law school and pass the bar. That's not an easy thing to do.

            "Every Pootie is a masterpiece." - Da Vinci

            by mdsiamese on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:40:30 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yeah, let's blame old dead English playwrights. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Argyrios, futurebird

              They're not doing anything anyway.  They just sit around, dead, making all kinds of money from the popularity of their writing.  Damn Shakespeare!

              Hope you enjoyed it, Sarah, 'cause we just kicked your silly winking folksy lipsticked ass back to Alaska. Now shut the fuck up and stay there. Also.

              by Kaili Joy Gray on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:53:14 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Judges are not the "legal profession" (0+ / 0-)

          Many federal judges operate in the most odious legal environment, esp. being forced to hear bullshit drug cases and hand down mandatory sentencing. It is amazing that people of good conscience can operate in that environment at all.

    •  Yup - no comparison w/ legislators (0+ / 0-)

      They will not, in general, resign from the bench to take another job unless they are financially pressed.
      To compare a judge with the Preznit, who has two 747's at his disposal, and an office budget of at least $80mm, is ludicrous. Unlike the Preznit, who can shoot his mouth off in an arbitrary manner, a judge is under constant scrutiny as to their decisions.

  •  I think he should resign in protest (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Caelian, BigBite, drewfromct, maxalb

    effective February 1st, 2009.  That'll teach Obama and the Democrats!

    "I'm not a member of an organized political party - I'm a Democrat." Will Rogers

    by newjeffct on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:26:21 AM PST

  •  If Federal Judges are truly getting (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    justmy2, BigBite, drewfromct, maxalb

    the short end of the stick from "management" then what they need to do is form a union to protect their collective interests.

    I bet Roberts will go for that.... /snark

    Democracy is a contact sport...

    by jsmagid on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:29:13 AM PST

  •  and, btw, caseload way, way down (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    musicalhair, old wobbly

     I have recently attended several CLE (Continuing Legal Education) seminars with catchy titles like, 'the vanishing jury trial"  and - "legislating tort reform by judicial opinion"  which cite a raft of statistics that show that these poor little overworked underpaid babies are doing - well, what the heck are they doing?  The number of cases (both federal and in my state) - are down by over 50%.  

     The number of legal issues - well - now that the governing rule is decide cases in favor of your political friends (i.e. big government over the individual, big business over the individual, big insurance over the individual - the drift is pretty easy to make out) is also way down.

     In my humble opinion - legislatures should cut salaries - especially since so many of these Republican judges believe that what they do is frivolous.

    •  Maybe that's true in Texas (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joe Bob, dharmafarmer, Boxer7

      But it is not true in New York, or a lot of other states.  If you want to go check your state filings against your population, here's a nifty website where you can go do that, and check it against other states as well.

      I DO know that bankruptcy filings have gone up in the federal courts.

      We do not rent rooms to Republicans.

      by Mary Julia on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:20:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  thanks - I bet you are right about bankruptcies (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mary Julia

          although, and my understanding could be imperfect, I was under the impression that bankrupticies are handled by "specialized" courts - and the number of High Nine reviews are not that overwhelming.

        •  You're right (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          The Bankruptcy Court handles them in federal court.  I noticed that the number of filings had gone up, not surprisingly.

          As for the Supremes, I have no sympathy for Roberts or that bench, but I do have sympathy for the trial court judges living in very expensive metropolitan areas.

          We do not rent rooms to Republicans.

          by Mary Julia on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:59:52 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  up to me - trial judges paid more than (0+ / 0-)

             the appellate ones -

             having worked in both spheres - I am more than a little confident that the world of an appellate judges is remarkably cushy - compared to a trial judge.

  •  Good! He should resign. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    musicalhair, snazzzybird

    Man is not a rational animal. Man is a rationalization animal.

    by Pacific Blue on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:31:20 AM PST

  •  Well then ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    musicalhair, trumpeter

    I suggest that he resign.  Remember poor old duct-tape, plastic, color coded alerts Tom Ridge?  He couldn't sqweak by on his salary and did the right thing - resigned.  The only problem is we didn't get anyone better in his place.

    Robert and Alito could resign and give Americans a chance to be represented by someone better.  And poor old Clarence Thomas what a piece of shit; we owe, and I mean ower, poor old Arlen Specter for that piece of shit.

  •  Americans are off the charts (3+ / 0-)

    in terms of what the planet can bear. Even $200 k per yr is too much. How much stuff do people need?

    Haven't we learned this year that greed has no limits? It all points to spiritual emptiness.  

    Roberts in particular is an unbalanced paranoic. He ruled in favor of the Navy for whale-blasting sonar, arguing that without it, the Koreans could attack Pearl Harbor.

    •  Do you have any idea of what the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ripeness Is All

      cost of living is in Washington, D.C.? The median home price is over $300,000. The cost of living in D.C. is, on average, at least a third higher (i.e., 130% of the national average). Housing is roughly twice as expensive as anywhere else.

      For that matter, federal judges (the group that Roberts was talking about) don't exactly live in cheap parts of the country. Federal courts are always located in large cities, which means that the costs of living are automatically higher than they would be for average workers. When you add in the fact that security concerns pretty much require them to live fairly close to their workplaces, they don't even get to live out in the cushy suburbs.

      •  Cost of Living (0+ / 0-)

        is also higher in California and the Coasts.  Oh, and NYC is also expensive (especially what you pay for each precious square foot of space you might live in).

        Sorry, bad argument IMHO.

        They are paid quite nicely. Either they want to serve the American people or they want to make more money.  I say, keep the pay down so that we know they are there because they WANT to make a difference, not because it's a great gig.....  and it is...

        -6.13 -4.4 Where are you? Take the Test!!!

        by MarciaJ720 on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:24:08 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  They are paid barely enough (0+ / 0-)

          to stay afloat--especially since to take a job in the federal judiciary, they are automatically going to be living in a a major metropolitan area--where the costs of living are always higher than elsewhere. And when you're talking the major federal courts, you're talking about California, New York, D.C., and the like--where the costs are even higher than in other major metropolitan areas. The cost of housing in D.C., for example, is roughly twice what it is anywhere else in the nation.

          •  I survived (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            in New York City on $23K. It's called living within your means.

            •  Were you single at the time? (0+ / 0-)

              Try living with your family on that kind of salary--and in a world where you can't take the subway because of security concerns. The two situations are not remotely comparable.

              •  Plenty of families do (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                Not well, but they do. There's no excuse for someone making over $100,000 to be complaining about money. If they're complaining about money, it means they were foolish with their money.

                This is how the mortgage crisis was perpetuated. People, in every income bracket, were living outside their means. If you're making $100K, don't buy a house that you need to make $1M to afford.

                When I was making $23,000, I had a cheaper apartment. I didn't eat out very much. I hardly ever drank. I was still able to save money, because I was living within my means. Now, I'm making more money, so I've moved to a slightly more expensive place and I go out to dinner more often.

                It's all about making and sticking to a budget.

                •  The federal poverty threshold (0+ / 0-)

                  for 2008 for a family of four in the 48 contiguous states was $21,200. If you want to tell me that's liveable, go right ahead. I'm not buying it, however. And just how do you expect someone who, as a requirement for the job s/he holds, has to have something more than thrift-store clothing available to wear to work, to get by on that little?

                  Not to mention the fact that, by the time someone is eligible to be appointed to the federal bench, they've already established themselves in a comfortable lifestyle: they've already got the nice house, the kids are already in college, etc. Should they have to pass up the opportunity simply because there's no way they could live on what the federal government pays them? Or are you seriously trying to suggest that anybody who wants to get an appointment to the federal judiciary should voluntarily live an ascetic lifestyle and deprive him/herself and his/her family of the ordinary creature comforts most of us take for granted, just so that, when the call comes, s/he's able to live within the means affordable on an entry-level judicial salary?

                  For that matter, why aren't you out there protesting the obscene salaries we pay to actors and athletes? Surely nobody needs to earn $20 million in a year, when obviously $23,000 is just fine and dandy.

      •  Michael, darling (8+ / 0-)

        You're trying to row against the populist tide here. Some people simply don't want to take into consideration that you don't become a federal judge without becoming a lawyer first.  Moreover, their view is tainted by what has happened during the last eight years.  AND they believe ALL Republicans are bad, which is ridiculous.

        Federal judges live all over the country, but, for example, those sitting on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals are in New York City much of the time. Those Judges sitting in the Eastern District, as well as the Southern District of New York live in the New York City metropolitan area. ANOTHER place where you can't support a family on that salary.

        We do not rent rooms to Republicans.

        by Mary Julia on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:26:17 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah, I know (4+ / 0-)

          But I thought that was part of our job description as progressives--swimming against the populist tide when it's the right thing to do.

          As a government employee myself, I know that we get nice bennies--but we also take substantial cuts in pay to work in the public sector. I have been getting regular raises almost every year since I started working for the university again--but offhand, I can't remember the last time any of those raises was above the annual cost of living increase. Which means, of course, that my salary has effectively been shrinking--and I don't have to live in Chicago, or D.C., or any of those other super-expensive places. Neither do I have a family to support, kids to send to college, or what have you. If I did, I don't know how I'd make it on my salary alone.

      •  then he'll get his raise after (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        we raise the minimum wage in those parts of the country and give special tax breaks to the working class and the poor in those parts of the country.

        Plenty of people live in these parts of the country on far less.

        My political compass: Economic: -7.38 Social: -5.79

        by musicalhair on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 12:45:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  How many of them (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Joe Bob

          are highly educated professionals of the caliber of a federal judge? I'll wager not many.

          •  and while we're running deficits (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            and people are having their homes foreclosed and the "middle class" is disappearing and we're literally talking about a potential great depression caused by trusting people that are "highly educated professionals of the caliber of a federal judge", I think they can hold off on crying poverty.

            The people at the top all already earn a disproportionate amount of money compared to the rest of society.

            Is it really time to give people making over $100K raises?  I think you've got the wrong priorities.

            My political compass: Economic: -7.38 Social: -5.79

            by musicalhair on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 01:33:39 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I haven't noticed anyone (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              arguing that because of the deficits we shouldn't be giving cost of living increases to any federal employees. Why should the judicial branch be any different? Especially if we want to be able to attract (and retain) the best and the brightest--at any level in the public sector.

              And point, please, to the place where I said we shouldn't also be giving raises to people in the middle class, or where I said that we shouldn't be trying to help people stay in their homes. Hint: you won't find it.

  •  I just sent a letter to the NY Times about this: (6+ / 0-)

    To the Editor –

    Chief Justice Roberts pleads for increased federal judicial salaries, noting that every other federal employee, received a cost-of-living increase this year.

    I welcome federal judges to the world of private sector employees.  Not only do many employees not get cost of living increases; they are often forced to accept salary cuts, work fewer hours, lose their pension benefits, or are laid off due the economy’s downturn.

    Most employees would be delighted  to have a job with  lifetime guaranteed employment, as federal justices have.  While such job security was common in the 60’s and 70’s, it is less so today, thereby contributing to the pattern of wage erosion for American workers..

    Roberts’ plea is particularly ironic.  In Ledbetter vs Goodyear, Robert’s court used, in Justice Ginsburg’s words, a ‘cramped’ interpretation of Title VII to deny Ledbetter relief.   One might ask, was Justice Roberts’ claim submitted within the 180 day notification period?  Otherwise his request might not be granted.

    I think that says it all!

    As an upstate New Yorker I want a senator from upstate New York to represent me!

    by HylasBrook on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:37:46 AM PST

  •  I'm confused (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    musicalhair, roberta g, saildude, Toon

    doesn't his salary come from us taxpayers? Aren't conservatives adamantly opposed to taxes in general and tax increases in particular? And isn't "justice" Roberts a conservative?

    Perhaps the good judge should take his case to Misters Hannity and Limbaugh of the liberal media to convince them of the dire need to raise taxes on the wealthy in order to fund his liberal notions of tax and spend. If they say it's ok, I'll be all for it!

    Al Qeada is a faith-based initiative.

    by drewfromct on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:41:59 AM PST

  •  griping (6+ / 0-)

    Roberts said ""I must renew the judiciary's modest petition: Simply provide cost-of-living increases that have been unfairly denied,"

    That is not griping. I don't care what the current state of the economy is, the guy is not GRIPING. His is indeed a "modest" petition to give the judiciary branch what the rest of the federal government is getting - a COLA.

    I'm am constantly amazed by the people of daily kos. I love reading the comments and diaries, even the most wacko ones, because it is reading the raw opinion of the world unfiltered by corporate media outlets. But good grief, some people are so blinded by their hatred of someone that they lose all objectivity. This diary is a perfect example. The diarist is a master of spin.

    Wheat and chafe, all I can say about daily kos. You just have to know the wheat from the chafe.

    "Every Pootie is a masterpiece." - Da Vinci

    by mdsiamese on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:44:01 AM PST

    •  NO, it's reality - the median income in this (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      drewfromct, AmericanRiverCanyon

      country is something like 45K.  People are struggling & it is really hard to listen to someone who gets paid by our taxes complain about raises.

      People are hurting in this country & as others have pointed out the Repulicans in Congress was all over the auto union about wages being "too high" when most autoworkers would make $70K - 1/3 Roberts' salary - only by working tons of overtime.  Problem is, they can't work overtime, they are being furloughed and laid off.

      With 2.5 million jobs LOST in 2008, someone with a 6 figure salary & guaranteed employment complaining about cost of living increase IS whining.

      Roberts & the federal judges are getting screwed the way private sector workers are getting squeeze financially, but private workers don't get pensions anymore & the stock market just wiped out their gains to 2002 levels.

      So if Federal judges don't get these COLA increases, they can do what other Americans do - buy cheaper food, don't go out ever, skip medications, put off seing the doctor, keep the car until you have to tow into the used dealership to get a replacement, or get a tenant.

      As an upstate New Yorker I want a senator from upstate New York to represent me!

      by HylasBrook on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:58:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  reality (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        "People are struggling & it is really hard to listen to someone who gets paid by our taxes complain about raises."

        Paying better salaries to retain better employees is smart economics and will save tax dollars in the long run because the work those better employees do is more valuable and worth the extra money. Anyone who can't see that has a tremendous lack of vision about economics.

        "Every Pootie is a masterpiece." - Da Vinci

        by mdsiamese on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:19:53 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't think so - how do better paid judges (0+ / 0-)

          make their work more valuable?  Private employers know that you can cut benefits and not give raises yet most people will keep on working.  I have been underpaid at several jobs, but I still did my best.

          I didn't work any less at the last job I had where I didn't get a raise in 3 years.  I'm tired of my salary going nowhere while my taxes - sales tax, income tax, property tax -- goes up.

          If Verizon wants to pay their employees more and raise their prices, I can choose not to use Verizon products.  But when my taxes go up I have NO choice but to pay them -- they are levied with the force of law.

          I don't have job security -- in fact, I just got laid off after 15 years with basically the same employer (much changed due to mergers)  I'm 60 years old!  I have NO job security.  

          You can lecture all you want about a "lack of vision about economics"  and I'm going come right back at you about corporations screwing employees, not to mention racial, sexual, and age discrimination that goes on in the workplace.

          Yes, paying employees well to do their job is great.  So is world peace, long life expectancy, adequate food and water.   Let me know when you get THOSE probles tackled & then you can lecture me about economics.

          As an upstate New Yorker I want a senator from upstate New York to represent me!

          by HylasBrook on Sun Jan 04, 2009 at 04:04:49 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Unfortunately we need good judges to stay (7+ / 0-)

    ...which means for the time being their pay needs to be somewhat comparable to what they can get in law firm positions available to them.

    With all the bullshit going on on Wall Street, it is even more clear to me that we need to be paying ALL CIVIL SERVANTS, including medical, administrative, legal, educators, enforcers, etc., A LOT MORE MONEY to get the talent we need.

    We would not have nearly so many attorneys in our nation, for example, if a history or lit major could make a decent living and get real social respect by becoming teachers (and not just lip service).

    When teachers start making $100,000 and judges start making at least $300,000, and government scientists make comparable gains to industry -- we'll have a much much stronger country with impenetrable intellectual resources. Imagine the competition for those jobs. Imagine the benefits.

  •  Sadly, (4+ / 0-)
    this whine & cheese party being thrown by our Chief Justice simply exemplifies the difference between the haves & have-nots on this planet.

    To illustrate:  I had a testy telephone conversation with a law school buddy - the only one of our circle who walked out the door and into a 6 figure job.  He'd been a life-long Dem, an observant Jew, an ardent Zionist and a supporter of the have-nots - until he joined the ranks of the haves.  His argument against Obama was that he was facing a tax increase; having slipped on the golden handcuffs (high expenses, school loans,  new wife, new baby, etc.) he was downright indignant.  

    I was at some pains to point out to him that I was facing the exact same expenses - on one quarter of his income and he should just STFU.  

    I'm an underpaid and barely appreciated government lawyer (state-level) and I'd like to see my salary keep up with the economy.  But I also entered public service knowing that such a sacrifice was a necessary, if not entirely welcome burden.  

    So, I'm afraid I'm going to have to give the C. J. the same advice I gave my good friend.  

    Hey, John?  STFU, okay.


    Our promises are made in proportion to our hopes, but kept in proportion to our fears.-LaRouchefoucauld

    by luvsathoroughbred on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:44:59 AM PST

    •  hey (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      At least you are there making a difference without the expectation of some big-pay-day payout.  Sounds like you are doing your job because you want to make a difference.

      And there's the difference between you and Chief Roberts.

      Sorry, I think the man makes enough money as it is.  If he wants more then he should go back to private practice, where I know first hand, many lawyers don't make very much money (mainly because there are just so many now that the market is flooded with them).

      Seriously, when I was working (I did the accounting), I made more than half the lawyers on our staff.  What does that tell you?  It should say a lot.

      -6.13 -4.4 Where are you? Take the Test!!!

      by MarciaJ720 on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:28:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  As someone with a Ph.D (5+ / 0-)

    doing biomedical research at a top research university for about $44K/yr pre-tax (and my pay is above average for my peers), my heart bleeds for the poor federal judges.

    •  Not sure if you're being sarcastic but (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Law school leaves you with a lot of debt and, as stated more eloquently by other commenters, the very people who are most qualified for judgeships can make so much more in the financial sector.

      Back in college, I majored in physics.  Some of the smartest people I've seen were lured into lucrative non-science jobs because graduate work is long and tedious with piddling stipends and, as you fully know, the careers after graduation are not always lucrative.  I think this is analogous with that.

      •  Don't know if you meant to imply (3+ / 0-)

        that I may have gone into grad work because I wasn't among the "smartest people" in my class, but I assure you, I did quite well. In my experience, some smart people go into academic science and some go into the private sector.

        But as someone who took an arguably tougher academic path than law school, works in a field that benefits the public good (like Roberts) and gets payed much less than a federal judge, my sympathy is limited.

    •  I assume your PhD was funded... (0+ / 0-)

      So unlike lawyers who paid $50k/yr to go to school, your schooling and living expenses were covered (in part through our taxpayer dollars).  My heart bleeds for people who don't have enormous loans after graduate school.

      Federal judges in most cases went to elite law schools, were in the top of their class, clerked for top judges, and got elite jobs in either the public or private sector.  None of those things are easy to do.  Elite qualifications should be rewarded, not punished.

      Furthermore, top biomedical researchers make a lot more than $44k/yr.   Perhaps you aren't a top biomedical researcher, and that is why you don't make more money... Or perhaps you are just doing a post-doc and will be making more in a few years...

  •  Well, It's Good He's A Judge And Not A Politician (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kimball Cross, Amber6541, HylasBrook

    Because such a tin-eared statement would have ended even the most auspicious political career.

    No one thinks that federal judges should have to organize rent parties and apply for food stamps; but neither should they become oligarchs at the public teat.  That's pretty much how I see it.

    And, perhaps I am insufficiently bourgeois, but as a professional man who, in his entire career, never made anywhere near $100K, and had to scramble for his own health care and his children's college money, I'd say that Justice Roberts has a rather inflated sense of just what a federal judge is worth.

    It's a canard to talk about private practice lawyers, because just about everything thinks their parasites.  So, again, I simply can't relate.

    And like the drowning man, who, in despair, Doth clutch the frail and weakly straw --Thomas Horatius Delpho

    by terry2wa on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:47:11 AM PST

  •  I can't believe this made the rec list. (13+ / 0-)

    How embarrassing.  Clearly, all those who have commented about the evil greedy lawyers and judges will never, ever make use of the justice system for themselves.  And should they find themselves in legal trouble, they'll have no need for lawyers.


    Hope you enjoyed it, Sarah, 'cause we just kicked your silly winking folksy lipsticked ass back to Alaska. Now shut the fuck up and stay there. Also.

    by Kaili Joy Gray on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:47:32 AM PST

    •  I Can't Believe Much Of What Makes It To The Rec (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      List.  But this is as legitimate as most of our discussions, and more germane than many.

      And like the drowning man, who, in despair, Doth clutch the frail and weakly straw --Thomas Horatius Delpho

      by terry2wa on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:51:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yeah, that's right *I* recommended your comment! (3+ / 0-)

      I'm as shocked as anyone that this made it to the rec list, frankly; I just meant it as a lighthearted snipe at Roberts. I was surprised that people found it worthy of a larger, more serious discussion of the dollar value of public service positions, etc.

      However, I disagree with your premise. I don't think all lawyers or judges are greedy or evil. They have every right to try and make a living like anyone else. My point is that when you're already making over $200K with all the other perks and lifetime security, it's a bit unreasonable to be publicly griping about your salary, especially at the moment.

    •  Should I ever (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      find myself in legal trouble, I'll be screwed from the get-go because I can't afford an overpriced lawyer.


      Al Qeada is a faith-based initiative.

      by drewfromct on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:17:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Overpriced? (2+ / 0-)

        And in your opinion, any lawyer who charges for his/her time is overpriced?  What do you consider fair pay for an attorney's time?

        Hope you enjoyed it, Sarah, 'cause we just kicked your silly winking folksy lipsticked ass back to Alaska. Now shut the fuck up and stay there. Also.

        by Kaili Joy Gray on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:19:14 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It depends (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          What do you consider fair pay for an attorney's time?

          On the work, one should think. A talented lawyer working hard to save an innocent person from Death Row should, for instance, be compensated more than some corporate lawyer who gets $500/hr to play golf while the clerks and interns do the gruntwork, wouldn't you agree?

          Al Qeada is a faith-based initiative.

          by drewfromct on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:38:03 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's an answer? (6+ / 0-)

            Seriously, how much should lawyers be able to charge for their time?  What is "fair" in your mind?

            And as for the corporate lawyers scenario, it reveals how little you understand the legal profession.  I promise you that those corporate lawyers who make $500/hr are not just playing golf.  They work ridiculously long hours.  That's part of the corporate legal world.  Sixty, eighty, a hundred hour work weeks.  No weekends.  No vacation.  Early mornings, late nights.  Some of the bigger firms have billing requirements of 2500 hours a year.  Do you know how many hours you have to work to bill 2500 hours in a year?

            As for "interns," not really.  There are summer associates, which are kind of like interns -- law school students who get summer jobs working for law firms.  Their lives are actually pretty cushy most of the time, since they don't actually know how to do anything (and are only going to be around for three months) and aren't licensed to practice law anyway.

            You want to talk about grunt work, you're talking mostly about paralegals.  (I am a paralegal, by the way, and have worked in small law offices and big giant DC law firms.)

            Paralegals do a lot of the grunt work, sure.  Usually, we also have billing requirements (although often not in solo practices).  Unlike our attorney counterparts, we are paid overtime.  They aren't.

            I think you have a lot of misconceptions about how the legal profession works.  That's fine; many people do.  But it's pretty unfair to condemn an entire profession about which you know so little.  

            We wouldn't tolerate that kind of ignorant treatment of other people, would we?  Why do you consider it acceptable to treat the legal profession that way?

            Hope you enjoyed it, Sarah, 'cause we just kicked your silly winking folksy lipsticked ass back to Alaska. Now shut the fuck up and stay there. Also.

            by Kaili Joy Gray on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:51:43 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  I think this does go onto the rec list. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      We are having a mostly civil discussion on a matter that ought be be important to informed citizens: To wit - What is the right level of payment to important civil servants? Also discussed with no consensus is Should judges' compensation be compared to the wages of others with the same degree or with the general public who will be paying them. While their has been some digs at a CJ who we disagree with, but if we don't agree with how he has done his job should that not reflect on whether or not we think he should be paid more?

      •  I think this has been anything but civil. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joe Bob

        It is obvious that many commenters didn't even read the story, since they're complaining about Roberts supposedly whining about his own salary, which is not at all accurate.

        Then you have the barrage of insults about lawyers, judges, and the entire legal profession.  

        Yes, it would make sense to have a civil conversation about how government employees' salaries are determined, but this diary and subsequent comments ain't it.

        Hope you enjoyed it, Sarah, 'cause we just kicked your silly winking folksy lipsticked ass back to Alaska. Now shut the fuck up and stay there. Also.

        by Kaili Joy Gray on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 03:16:31 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I personally think it is an outrage (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    give such an important and brilliant lawyer such a puny salary -- He should resign .....

    (wouldn't that just be perfect - lower the frigging salaries so all the Republican judges will resign all over the country -- then put in brilliant democratic leaning lawyers -- and raise the salaries again to what it is now)??

    heh heh

    "Proud to proclaim: I am a Bleeding Heart Liberal"

    by sara seattle on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:49:17 AM PST

  •  One of my pet peeves is (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    gov't lawyers that lust for those outside bucks.  I just wanna scream when I hear them talk about leaving service for some payoff they feel entitled to.  An EEOC commissioner once said it in a keynote speech I attended.  A journeyman gov't lawyer can easily make 6 figures, most of the time for a 40-hour week.  If you want more, go out and get it, but don't act like you've somehow earned it.  If the service itself, along with the excellent wages and benefits isn't enough for you, don't act like there's something wrong with me thinking that it's plenty fine.  

    •  Indeed, One Would Think The Security Of The Bench (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Or the civil service would counter much of the complaining about low wages.  Those private practice lawyers they often cite sometimes have very lucrative but very short careers, so they have to make a fast buck in order to carry them through the lean times.

      And like the drowning man, who, in despair, Doth clutch the frail and weakly straw --Thomas Horatius Delpho

      by terry2wa on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:57:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  anyone know how many houses Judge Roberts has? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    musicalhair, snazzzybird

    Because if it's more than one, Your Honor, you can honorably cram it up yer opinion hole.

    The hopeful depend on a world without end, whatever the hopeless may say. --Rush

    by Leftcandid on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:52:21 AM PST

  •  let him resign and BO can replace him (4+ / 0-)

    easy as that. Happy New Year to all.

  •  If he doesn't like the pay he should quit. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MA Liberal, klamothe, irate, Amber6541
  •  I question Mr. Chief Justice's judgment. (7+ / 0-)

    At a time when the economy in this country and the world is having serious problems; when Wall Street and the auto companies have had to come to the taxpayer to get bailouts; and at a time when Americans are losing their jobs, their homes, and their investments in ever-increasing numbers--Judge Roberts wants to talk about how he and other judges need a raise?  

    Is he so insulated from the misery going on around him to believe that this is actually a good time to garner sympathy and action to use more taxpayer money to bailout what he believes to be underpaid judges?  While the issue of judicial pay raises may be one to discuss at some point, it would seem that someone who makes decisions affecting the lives of Americans for years to come would have enough common sense to recognize that this isn't the right time to be raising this issue.

    Perhaps Judge Roberts and the American people would be far better served if he were to resign and get a more lucrative job in the private sector.

  •  Ask Obama to offer Roberts 10 million to resign (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and good riddance to bad rubbish. Is that why we get such ill-thought, wrongheaded decisions? He's bitching about a lousy stinkin' 200 Gs and pocket change and if he doesn't get more money then we can expect more decisions like this one

    This is just to say Forgive us victory tastes delicious so sweet and so cold

    by Dave the Wave on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:00:21 AM PST

  •  Do you realize? (0+ / 0-)

    How many of you out here realize that there are many people who live every year on the 17K of his 217K?  

  •  Job security is not based on merit or competence (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    look at Clarence.

    This above all: to thine own self be true...-WS

    by Agathena on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:05:51 AM PST

  •  If anyone around me complained (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    about their $217K per year job, especially in this economy and given the fact that I cannot for the life of me find work, I think I'd rip them a new asshole.

    This is why the phrase "some people's kids" was invented. Holy hell on a popsicle stick.

  •  Compared to the lawyers at top firms the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Agathena, Toon

    amount of money these judges make is low.  I'm pretty sure they had that idea when they went for the job.  I also believe that legacy has no price tag and that is the real reason that people take this jobs (pretty sure that you don't aspire to be on the supreme court or a federal judge because of the pay)  
    It isn't a comparison but my wife works social work and that makes about 175k less than these judges and you know what?  We are ok with that because she loves what she does and knew going into the field that the pay sucks.

    •  There's the key sentence (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      "Compared to the lawyers at top firms"

      Sorry, but the top lawyers make up but a small faction of lawyers in the United States today.

      You can look at the lawyers in this country pretty much like you do the rest of the country....

      1% are at the top and really rake in the money.  The next 5% to 10% make above average and do quite well, this includes any lawyer making over $150,000/year.

      Then there are the vast majority of lawyers who make much more in-line with everyone else, type of salaries.

      I did accounting work and know what our lawyers were paid.  Trust me, I made more than half the lawyers on staff.

      -6.13 -4.4 Where are you? Take the Test!!!

      by MarciaJ720 on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:34:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Scientific Validity (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joe Bob, apdva

          I practiced law at a very prestigious Manhattan firm.  The people were honorable.  Most of the work was one large corporation attacking another large corporation.  My progressive credentials were very apparent to the partners.  I worked for the U.S. Senate and NOW Legal Defense Fund.  My compensation was determined by a sophisticated market.  The partners did not smoke weed in the partner's bathroom and announce any old salary.  Indeed, were it not for price signaling, our compensation would have been much greater.  The quality of the work was simpy superb and awesome.  There was a true beauty to it.  

          The work that top lawyers accomplish on a routine basis is mind boggling to me. When the ACLU has a pet project to litigate, large firms answer the call.  We deserve the large salaries.  If we did not deserve the salaries, the market would correct itself.  

      •  But you know, I think that federal judges (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joe Bob

        who are making the most important legal decisions in our country on a day to day basis, should come from that top 1%, or at the very least, from the top 5%.  The only way you are going to consistently get candidates from the top 1% of lawyers is if you don't make them take a huge pay cut.  The problem is at the district court level.  When a top lawyer in Baton Rouge, Louisiana makes $500,000 or $600,000 or more a year, it's hard to get that person to take $159,000 to be a federal judge in the Middle District of Louisiana for the rest of his life.  Unless, of course, he's indepedently wealthy from another source.  

        Yes, you will sometimes get a top lawyer to go into the public sector because that is more important than money.  But the only way they will all be like that is if you pay somewhat more competitively -- not equal to the private sector, but a bit better than where they are.  And remember, a judgeship is for life, and is not the kind of job that you take for a few years and then use to make millions, like Eric Holder or Deval Patrick did by using their time at the Clinton Justice Department as a springboard.  

    •  So? Don't accept the job? (0+ / 0-)

      Need Support Barack? Give Joe Lieberman and Rick Warren a call. Maybe they can help you.

      by justmy2 on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 06:09:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  When people are losing their jobs, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and the entire country is tanking,this is, well, tacky.
    Oh, and as an attorney in private practice, I would be happy with considerably less than event he $169,000 number.

    He has risen with his honor, grace and civility intact. Chicago Tribune endorsement of Barack Obama

    by MufsMom on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:06:16 AM PST

  •  any time Roberts want to return to private life (3+ / 0-)

    he can do so with my blessing

    Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.
    We inaugurate President Barack Obama in 19 days!

    by TrueBlueMajority on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:06:36 AM PST

  •  Another Republican, "it's-all-about-me" prick. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    old wobbly, FishBiscuit

     Who whines.



    "We in the gloam, old buddy," he said, "We definitely right in the middle of it." -Larry Brown

    by BenGoshi on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:07:33 AM PST

    •  you think democratic judges don't share his view? (6+ / 0-)

      This isn't a republicans vs. democrats thing. I will bet you $2 every member of SCOTUS thinks the same thing about the COLAs and federal judiciary pay.

      "Every Pootie is a masterpiece." - Da Vinci

      by mdsiamese on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:12:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Bull. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        old wobbly


        Although it may be a whine "across the board", it's the whine of shallow and rapacious pricks who don't see (or seek) the Bench as a "calling", but as a way to massage their egos and bank accounts.  We need LESS of those and more who are not wired thusly.

        I've been practicing for 18 years, by the way.  I've practiced in State and Federal Court equally.  Wound-down my litigation practice a couple of years ago, but in latter '90s up until a couple of years ago, did a great deal of litigating and ran into judges of all persuasions, abilities, temperaments.  From traffic court, to Federal District Court, to the 11th Circuit.

        I reject your premise.


        "We in the gloam, old buddy," he said, "We definitely right in the middle of it." -Larry Brown

        by BenGoshi on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:18:35 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  thank you (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          davidincleveland, Argyrios

          I didn't make a premise, I made a bet. Most of your comment was non-responsive to my premise, but you actually agreed with me.

          You said "Another Republican, "it's-all-about-me" prick."

          I responded "This isn't a republicans vs. democrats thing. I will bet you $2 every member of SCOTUS thinks the same thing about the COLAs and federal judiciary pay."

          To which you responded "Although it may be a whine "across the board" "

          So thank you, for agreeing with me.

          "Every Pootie is a masterpiece." - Da Vinci

          by mdsiamese on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:24:08 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  No, you miss my point. (0+ / 0-)

            Republicans ARE the biggest whiners.  Some who may call themselves Democrats may whine about such things, too, but this is mostly a Rich Man's Whine and that, by definition, is mostly a Republican's whine.

            You want to be dismissive of the the whole point of the Diary, to wit:  that Roberts is selfish prick.  Fine.  That's you're right.  I happen to agree with the diarist.

            Furthermore, that you would join in the chorus of whiners for feeling all sorry for Judges because they don't make enough is, indeed, the foundation of your argument here.  It's an argument I reject.  But, then, disagreements on a political website are kind of what political websites are all about.  Ain't democracy grand?


            "We in the gloam, old buddy," he said, "We definitely right in the middle of it." -Larry Brown

            by BenGoshi on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:28:51 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Well, if you are going to miss mine ... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              "Furthermore, that you would join in the chorus of whiners for feeling all sorry for Judges because they don't make enough is, indeed, the foundation of your argument here.  It's an argument I reject."

              NEVER in any of my comments have I said judges do not make enough. Show me a comment where I did so.

              Yes, democracy is grand, but twisting and misquoting are not.

              "Every Pootie is a masterpiece." - Da Vinci

              by mdsiamese on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:43:46 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Tomayto, tomahto: you're an apologist for... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                old wobbly

                . . . the whiners, I'm not.  

                I see this as a mostly greed-fed (read:  mostly Republican mind-set) thing, you don't.

                Good for you.  You're side might very well win and higher sinecures for (even) dimmer judges may rule the day.  Yippee.


                "We in the gloam, old buddy," he said, "We definitely right in the middle of it." -Larry Brown

                by BenGoshi on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:46:29 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  And I reject Ben's! (6+ / 0-)

          Having practiced for longer (didn't think I was going to let you get away with that, did you, Ben?), I am quite aware of the judiciary in New York, both federal and state.  I know VERY few who went on the bench because they were looking for a steady paycheck. Most of them made more in private practice.  They just wanted to be judges, and there is nothing wrong with that.  

          And there ARE Democrats on the bench who are hurting because of the lack of pay raises.  I know one state judge who left because of the salary (a good one), and one federal (another good one). To say they should never consider what they are paid is ridiculous.  They are judges, not monks, for Chrissakes.

          I COULD have gone into a convent, but they wouldn't let me have sex, smoke or swear.  So I became a lawyer instead. I don't recall taking a vow of poverty.  And I DON'T want to lose good judges because they can't afford to stay on the bench and pay their mortgages and put their kids through college.

          We do not rent rooms to Republicans.

          by Mary Julia on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:36:57 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Fine. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            old wobbly


            You have your experience and opinion and I have mine.

            As I say upthread, the words "hurting" or "suffer" written or spoken in the same sentence as 6-figure salaries are simply things I cannot reconcile, not without laughing my head off.

            I cry an effing river for any judge (whatever their political persuasion) who whines over making a "mere" $100k/year, or $150k, or $200+k.

            There are many, many wonderful attorneys who would, indeed, give a limb to serve -- and serve honorably -- on the bench for those "mere" amounts that these judges are having a whinefest over.


            "We in the gloam, old buddy," he said, "We definitely right in the middle of it." -Larry Brown

            by BenGoshi on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:42:03 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Don't think so (6+ / 0-)

      The fact that the Chief Justice is a Republican is irrelevant. It's part of his job to be the advocate before Congress for the federal judiciary as a whole. If it was Chief Justice Stevens or Chief Justice Ginsburg, I guarantee you, they'd be making exactly the same case.

  •  He has an expense account (4+ / 0-)

    for work related travel, I imagine.

    He has a huge staff that he doesn't have to pay for. He would have to pay for his staff in private practice, I imagine.

    His uniform is paid for and maintained.

    But even so, I wish he would retire since financial gain means more to him than job satisfaction.

    This above all: to thine own self be true...-WS

    by Agathena on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:08:45 AM PST

  •  one more thing (4+ / 0-)

    I've watched over the past 20+ years as many of my colleagues left the govt. for higher paying jobs in private industry. The result - tje agency I work for does not have enough people to do the technical work we need to do so we pay contractors to do it, the very people who once worked here and left. So you, the taxpayer, are paying many times more for something that could have been done much more cheaply if tech jobs in the govt were more highly paid and we could have retained those people as govt. employees to do the same work.

    I see comments in this diary about the lack of sympathy people have for those making 6 figure salaries and taxpayer dollars paying those "high" salaries. Well, I have to tell you - if govt. employees are not paid a fair salary, and that includes judicial employees, it will cost the taxpayers far more in other ways. People have a tremendous lack of vision if they think paying a few more dollars in salary costs more than it is worth. As with all things in economics, we must look beyond the numbers for all of the affects.

    "Every Pootie is a masterpiece." - Da Vinci

    by mdsiamese on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:09:25 AM PST

  •  Try this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    This year some of Florida's public officials are giving a whole new meaning to the phrase "home for the holidays.''

    It's a new crop of double dippers, taking advantage of a loophole in state law that allows them to "retire'' by taking 30 days off and return to work in their old jobs with a salary and a pension. Many also collect a lump-sum "retirement'' payment that can reach hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    Other double-dipping college presidents include Edwin R. Massey at Indian River State College in Fort Pierce and James R. Richburg at Northwest Florida State College.

    Massey collected more than $585,000 in a lump sum last June and now collects a monthly pension of $9,823 plus his annual salary of $286,470.

    Now that is truly obscene.

    I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong- Feynman

    by taonow on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:10:17 AM PST

  •  Roberts (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brainwrap, drewfromct, Calamity Jean

    should get the same pay raise he advocated through the majority opinion that Lily Ledbetter got in Ledbetter v. Goodyear.

    In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. - George Orwell

    by Alise on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:10:54 AM PST

  •  The Cost of Two Residences vs. Supreme Court (0+ / 0-)

    Also, keep in mind (and I am sure this has been done in the comments already but I am far too lazy to look through all 235 and counting) that Congressman and women and Senators have to have two residences. That significantly alters the COLA formula that Roberts is referring to, who only needs to maintain one residence.

    That's a pretty large difference and essentially means he takes home 25%-50% more than our congressional leaders.

    "The most important environmental issue is one that is rarely mentioned, and that is the lack of a conservation ethic in our culture".-Gaylord Nelson

    by WorkingClassHero on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:13:07 AM PST

  •  This really is just horrible timing on his part (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Maybe they do deserve a raise - I don't have an opinion - but instead of matching their increase to the one congress gave themselves, I think congress should agree not to take one either. This is absolutely not the time for government officials to be giving themselves raises.

  •  First year federal attorney salary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AmericanRiverCanyon, maxxdogg

    with DC locality pay...


    Take home:

    $1,300 a week

    Average studio apartment rental within 2 miles of White House/Captiol Hill:  


    Yeah...I love public service...but really?  Really?

    Impeach Roberts or stack the Court.  80-100 cases a year?  Seriously?  Seriously?  

    Get to work you bum.  And STFU.

    "It stinks." - Jay Sherman

    by angry liberaltarian on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:17:30 AM PST

  •  Well, by his reasoning (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    anotherdemocrat, Toon

    Why aren't we paying our Soldiers, you know the good men and women who actually risk their lives, at least $150,000/year?

    Sorry, I think our troops do more for our country than greedy-little-I-want-my-name-in-the-history-books plus all the money and benefits I can get, Judges.

    Either you want to serve our country or you want to go make money.

    Many serve our country knowing they have good benefits and that AFTERWARDS they can really pile on the income with speaking fees, book deals, etc.  Others serve because they feel a calling to do so.  

    Who do you think will be better at their job?  I'm putting my money on the people who serve because they WANT to, not because it is a financial windfall either now or later.

    No, these people either are truly Conservative or they are not.  Sounds like they are not (surprise, surprise).

    -6.13 -4.4 Where are you? Take the Test!!!

    by MarciaJ720 on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:18:31 AM PST

  •  Raise?.... RAISE! (0+ / 0-)

    Raise your sorry ass out on the street and into the real world!

    Get back to fucking work.

  •  Can't believe this got rec'd (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    apdva, Tonal Crow, Argyrios, futurebird

    Judges are the most important job in the legal system.  Yes, more important than the lawyers themselves.  Unfortunately, not a lot of them who have the opportunity to make more $ at a private law firm are going to persist in a job that puts them at a massive disadvantage w.r.t. their private sector peers.  

    How is asking for a COLA increase unreasonable?

  •  $150-$217K (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    $150-$217K per annum and that for life is more than 90 percent of the population could ever even merely dream off... Most even don't get a "COLA".

    So my advice: congressmen vote now against this proposal. Judges have a good enough salary already. And congressmen, when you're doing that, block increases to your own salary as well. You too earn more than enough.

    Obama-Biden in 2012!

    by Frederik on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:26:09 AM PST

  •  What people here don't understand (6+ / 0-)

    is that law school debt can reach into six figures. The effect of low judicial pay is that people who come from money are disproportionately represented in the judiciary.

    Roberts and Stevens are absolutely right. In an industry where the average salary for a first-year graduate is $185K with year-end bonus, paying the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States $217K is not reasonable. A graduate going to a top law firm is making that by his second or third year out of law school.

    •  Unless the pay is good-- (4+ / 0-)

      All our judges will be trust fun babies-- I wonder who's interests they'll look out for?

    •  BS (5+ / 0-)

      First year law students do not make $185K unless they were in the top of their class.

      I have worked with staff lawyers making $36,000/year - you know ones fresh out of law school and the Bar.

      Quit this $185,000 first year crap - it is a BS number that applies to maybe 1% of law school graduates.

      -6.13 -4.4 Where are you? Take the Test!!!

      by MarciaJ720 on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:40:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  That may be the average salary (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joe Bob, Bronx59, maxxdogg

      for major law firms; for all law grads? I don't think so.  Got any stats? Last time I looked on a job search site, an average lawyer makes less than 100K. Lots of lawyers are public defenders, DAGs, public benefits lawyers, workers comp lawyers, and so forth.  But otherwise, mostly agree with your point; still paying Sallie Mae for my JD.

      •  You are correct. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joe Bob, tomhodukavich, fhcec

        In my county we have somewhere around 50 practicing attorneys.  About 40% are either prosecutors or public defenders and they all make less than $100,000.  I'd guess that another 30% make less than $100,000 in their private practices.  Only a handful make what the judges in our county make (about $105,000).

    •  Considering that Roberts is 50 (0+ / 0-)

      I'm sure he retired his debt long ago.
      working government has perks and benefits that the private sector does not. Those bennies aren't calculated in the salary. government workers may not make what they could in the private sector, but they are serving their country.
      There is no reason to pay them equal to what the private sector makes. If they don't like it, let them leave. This job is supposed to be about more than the money.

      Electing conservatives is like hiring a carpenter who thinks hammers are evil.

      by MA Liberal on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 12:21:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's not about Roberts (2+ / 0-)

        It's about the state of the federal judiciary as a whole. This is a situation where the perfect is the enemy of the good. Perhaps you think that the perfect situation is to have a federal judiciary motivated entirely by selfless public service. But meanwhile, the reality is that the judiciary is not attracting the legal talent it requires to do its job well. Increasing judges' salaries would help at a very low cost to the taxpayer.

    •  Honestly, I do not (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pd, apdva, Argyrios

      believe that Roberts was complaining about his own salary, nor that of his fellow Justices.  This is about the salaries of lower judges, as well as the other employees of the Judicial branch.

      I am for the individual over government, government over big business and the environment over all -- William O. Douglas

      by Its the Supreme Court Stupid on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 12:43:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yeah. But most law grads don't go to top firms (0+ / 0-)

      The vast majority of young lawyers make well under $100,000 a year.

      •  The majority of top grads from top schools do. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        And call me silly, but I'd rather that federal judges were from the top of their class at top schools...

        Or we could go for mediocrity...

        •  Absolutely (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I, too, would prefer that the smartest people become judges.  (Just like I'd prefer my president to be one of the smartest guys around.)  And while it's not always true, most people practicing law know that a person who had really high grades in college and really high marks on the law school entrance exams (necessary to get into a good school), and then, out of all the people who did that, again emerges at the top of those high-achievers by being at the top of his law school class, well, there's a pretty good chance that he's got above-average intelligence.  

        •  I'm calling you silly (0+ / 0-)

          I've practiced law for about 20 years and find very little correlation between the competence of a lawyer or judge and where that person went to school.

    •  This debt applies to any graduate program (0+ / 0-)

      including those that provide fellowships and assistantships for graduate students.

      It doesn't take much, in fact, considering the skyrocketing costs for any college education and the prevalence of poverty-stricken and ill-prepared middle-class students relying more and more heavily on loans rather than scholarships and grants.

      At some point, I'd say around 2.5-3 times the median income (this figure is one I'm just tossing out and is subject to reasonable debate, obviously), COLA adjustments on a yearly basis are both unnecessary and excessive. Instead, periodic adjustments to maintain the ratio of incomes for the positions to the median income are more appropriate.

  •  well, he is more than welcome (0+ / 0-)

    to go get himself one of those private-sector lawyer salaries. Poor baby.

  •  I just don't feel sorry for Republicans (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    drewfromct, Toon

    such as Roberts who have blocked increases of minimal wages, etc.

    "Because we won...we have to win." Obama - 6/6/08. WELL WE DID IT!!! 11/4/08

    by Drdemocrat on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:31:21 AM PST

  •  The only story here is that (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    drewfromct, fhcec, futurebird, Toon

    Roberts is a Republican. His political ideology is what results in no pay raises for those in government and no pay raises for those in the private sector. It's been this way since before FDR. Republican ideology requires/results in low labor rates. This holds doubly for government employees (especially since the reign of St. Ronnie). Hey Roberts, how does it feel to be treated like the rest of the hired help?

    If Roberts really wanted a raise for the judiciary, he would loudly proclaim the failures of conservatism.

    The reality, of course, is that he so lacks self-awareness (another conservative trait) that he appears to not understand how it is that we got to this point, much less understanding that his little speech makes him look both stupid and hypocritical at the same time.

  •  The Question Becomes (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joe Bob, futurebird

    do we want to attract the best people for these important posts like a judge.  A lawyer with a small practice can make about what Roberts makes.  At the same time you want Judges who are dedicated public servants who are not in it just for the money.  Like everything else it is a balancing test.

  •  Roberts is so insensitive -- it's like he never (0+ / 0-)

    reads a newspaper.

  •  What's he bitching about? He gets the money and (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    benefits, the potential speaking fees, the prestige and the pleasure of fucking over his political "enemies" for the rest of his fucking life.  And nothing pleases a conservative more than fucking over liberal ideas, no matter how good they may be.

    •  He's bitching about (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      apdva, dedmonds

      the pay for District Court judges, who don't get all those speaking fees and other perks.  He doesn't care much about his salary -- he made his zillions already in private practice.  He could give a rat's behind about a couple of thousand more for himself.  But, it's his job as CJ to make this argument on behalf of the whole federal judiciary.  Stevens and Ginsburg have made the same argument, by the way.

      The issue is not salaries for the Supreme Court.  Those are usually people who are already wealthy enough that the salary doesn't matter.  (Although I'm not sure I like limiting the Supreme Court to those who are already so rich that the salary doesn't matter, which is what happens as a practical matter).  No, the issue is the district court judges, where really good attorneys would have to see their pay cut in half, or maybe down to 1/3, for the rest of their life in order to take a judgeship.  Because not a lot of the best local lawyers are willing to do that, too often it is a political hack who gets a federal district judgeship.  

      •  The answer is lower the pay for lawyers (0+ / 0-)

        so that being a judge is an upgrade.  Problem solved.

        •  And how you propose to accomplish that? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          apdva, dedmonds, futurebird

          Without some kind of limit on what anybody can make?  Do you just say nobody can make over $150,000 a year, no matter what? Like doctors? or athletes?  or movie stars?  Or do you just pass a law saying that lawyers can't make over $150,000 a year, but other professions can?  If it is such a simple solution, please elaborate.  

          •  tax lawyers 100% over $150,000. (0+ / 0-)

            Problem solved.  Everybody's happy.  And the lawyers will get a good reputation instead of the moneygrubbing, thieving, conniving perception that the public has of them.

            •  Just lawyers? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Joe Bob, apdva

              Besides being completely and clearly unconstitutional to single out one profession like that, why just lawyers?  Hey, I don't think that the guys playing in the NFL should make millions a year, why not them?  Baseball players?  What about a guy who sits the bench all season in the major leagues and makes $300,000 a year? and what about Britney Spears, who can make a couple of million a year right now for doing abosolutely nothing, since she still gets royalties off her earlier stuff? What about doctors?  shouldn't they be doing it just for the love of helping people?  Hey, I know, let's just pick out all the professions we don't like and tax everything they make over $150,000.  

              Sure, let's just do that. Sure, no problem.  That's get done tomorrow.  Let me call my congressman and suggest it.  Thanks for such a realistic solution to the problem.  

            •  This may be (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              the stupidest thing I've ever seen posted at Dailykos. And that's saying something.

          •  Roll back the Reagan tax cuts. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Tax incomes over $250K at 50% those over $1 million at 70% and beyond $10 million at 90%. I don't have a problem with lawyers in particular, just in the way the difference between rich and poor harms the country as a whole.

  •  Nawwww....give POTUS, SCOTUS, etc. $1MM/year (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I don't like Bush's politics, or Roberts'.  But, hey, when athletes and actors are making $20MM a year, and CEO's are getting $100MM pay packages, I really don't mind giving the top 10 (or so) people in government a healthy salary.  They should receive pay commensurate with their responsibilities, relative to the rest of our society.

    Quite frankly, I want my President and my SCOTUS to not even have to worry about their income...I want them to be 100% focused on their job.

    Seriously...a lot of people are going to make far in excess of a million dollars in 2009...I would think it would be OK for the President to be one of them.  His job, after all, is kind of IMPORTANT.

    •  Oh bull. Public Serrvice should not (0+ / 0-)

      be a path to fortune.

      These... People, get GREAT medical (for which they are ungrateful), they get to foist their damn opinions and stupidities on all of us (the consituents they could care less about), they get great vacations (I haven't had two weeks of contiguous vacation for five + years).

      If they want to make more, let them go elsewhere.  I hear that Zimbabwe needs a new Imperious Leader.  Great climate in Zimbabwe...

      Dana Curtis Kincaid Ad Astra per Aspera! The enemy is not man, the enemy is stupidity.

      by angrytoyrobot on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 12:08:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  whatever (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I have to admit, fairness is fairness, and if you think an employee is worth X dollars, then they should get a COLA increase.  But, seriously, fuck this guy.  I make 32 grand a year teaching kids.  This guy makes 7 times my salary to issue forth opinions on.....whatever.  The guy has literally one of the only true lifetime gigs out there, with a guaranteed pension....God, what an ASSHOLE!

    "The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath."- Shakespeare, "Merchant of Venice"

    by tubalefty on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:47:29 AM PST

  •  Low pay GOP way to weaken judiciary. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joe Bob, apdva, futurebird

    Robert's is right.  Low pay is one of the ways the GOP weakens the judiciary and undermines the checks and balances of US democracy.

  •  Very late to this diary--but agree with ALL (0+ / 0-)

    your points.  Total job security for life; plenty of benes; etc.  Stop crying.  Resign if he's not happy.

  •  How ironic. He wants a COLA increase but would (3+ / 0-)

    certainly side against organized labor on any decision that reaches the supreme court.

  •  He could make more money (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Answer Guy, fhcec, angrytoyrobot

    He really should resign at the end of the month and go out in the corporate law world and make the money he deserves. Maybe Alioto and Scalia should join him in founding a new firm.

    We have only just begun and none too soon.

    by global citizen on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 12:02:30 PM PST

  •  Recommendation: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    My recommendation: Have Congress vote to reduce his$150,000. Maybe he'll resign and need to be replaced with someone more interested in justice and less interested in cramming their own right-wing political viewpoints down the throats of others (you know, a REAL Chief Justice, with integrity who might be widely respected for their fairness and commitment to jurisprudence, not to the political cronies who appointed them).

    •  Congress cannot vote to reduce (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wdrath, Argyrios, Rich in PA

      the salary of a sitting justice.  Article III, Section 1 of the Constitution states:

      The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behavior, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.

      Emphasis mine.

      I am for the individual over government, government over big business and the environment over all -- William O. Douglas

      by Its the Supreme Court Stupid on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 12:41:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bloody Hell... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    old wobbly

    I'd love 200 grand a year and pension to sit around in fancy robes.

    Please, John, quit and let Pres. Obama draft a more liberal Chief Justice.

    PS - John Roberts, you are a windbag.  A complete nutter.

    Dana Curtis Kincaid Ad Astra per Aspera! The enemy is not man, the enemy is stupidity.

    by angrytoyrobot on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 12:03:50 PM PST

  •  Hell (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'm a lawyer and a teacher and at least as intelligent as the current crop of justices.

    I say peg their salaries to public school teachers in DC--I can guarantee you it's a tougher job.

  •  J.R. can have my job, complete with pocket lint! (0+ / 0-)
  •  I hope Roberts resigns... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and goes back to his lucrative private practice on January 22nd...oh please...pretty we know any Democratic leaning law firms who can spare like $500K per year for the next 20 years to get him off of SCOTUS...maybe George Soros can put the firm on a $500K per year retainer for advice to offset the cost...

    Obama/Biden'08 Delivering Change he Promised

    by dvogel001 on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 12:18:15 PM PST

  •  It's his JOB to whine about his salary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Just as it is YOUR job to whine about yours.

    IT's quite clear that most of the people here deserve to make at least $857, 329.45/year and the vast majority of us do not.

    Besides, kvetching is America's national passtime.

  •  Perhaps those appointed to the SCOTUS (0+ / 0-)

    should be near the ends of their careers rather than the beginning or middle. That way, we get the wisdom of their years, and they won't stay so long. If Roberts wants to make more, let him leave. i;'m sure he could get a great cushy lawyer's position with SCOTUS on his resume.
    And to those who say $217,000 isn't that much? bullshit. how many people make that? Damn few. Factor in the health insurance benefits and other perks, his salary in real dollars is higher than the 217K.
    Don't like it Mr. Roberts? then quit. I'd gladly take your salary.

    Electing conservatives is like hiring a carpenter who thinks hammers are evil.

    by MA Liberal on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 12:19:25 PM PST

    •  As noted above, this isn't about the SC (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      It's about being a federal judge for, say, the central district of Pennsylvania, in Harrisburg or Williamsport.  Most people who come before your court, save for other government employees and public-interest lawyers, make less than you do.  And it's not like you enjoy prestige sufficient to make the salary unimportant.

      -5.38/-3.74 I've suffered for my country. Now it's your turn! --John McCain with apologies to Monty Python's "Protest Song"

      by Rich in PA on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 12:54:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's not about money (3+ / 0-)

    I make more than $217K and I would GLADLY give up the extra money to be on SCOTUS.  And not for the perks, either.  I'd do it because it is a chance to make my country better (well at least more like I want it to be).

    Has anyone demonstrated that having wealth is a deterrent to taking bribes?  It seems to me it only makes the required amount higher (in most cases).

    Integrity doesn't flow from wealth.

  •  It's an outrage! (0+ / 0-)

    Roberts should retire immediately and write a tell-all book.

  •  As Churchill said... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    drewfromct, AmericanRiverCanyon

    to the lady who was offended at providing sex for a pittance but would consider it for a large sum:

    "We have established what you are, now we are just haggling over price"

    If you lack integrity, wealth only affects the size of the payment.

  •  Let Roberts and any other malcontents (0+ / 0-)

    on SCOTUS move on. We have a smart guy coming into the White House who can find all sorts of great legal talent to fill the vacated seats.

  •  $$-Judicial Watch link to pdf Robert's finances (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    pdf here for Roberts for 2007:

    "Agreements" (those part time gigs)
    taught a course for a few days and made $10,000
    taught a seminar for $7,500
    taught another study of law abroad program at the Dickenson School of Law and made $15,000

    free membership in a golf club worth $12,000, membership in University club, worth $3,240

    So that's $47,740 income or compensation he's gotten in addition to salary

    Roberts has
    Stock and/or dividends in over 50 companies:

    Hewlett Packard
    Freddie Mac

    Franklin Mint
    Fidelity, Energy, Overseas, Growth funds
    Fidelity Low price stock, freedom 2010, Contrafund
    Am Cent Gr Fund
    Washington REIT
    Texas Instruments
    Scientific Atlanta (sold)

    C. Schwab Money Mkt fund
    M& T Bank
    Ing Em Countries A fund
    Vanguard small cap and Int't
    TR Price SCi & Tech
    TR Price Euro Stock
    Torray Fund
    Seligman Common A Fund
    Putnam Voyager
    Putnam New Opp
    Lord Abbett
    Blackrock (fmrly Merrill Lynch Int'l Value Fund)
    Janus WW

    Pillsbury Winthrop
    Utah Educ Svgs Plans, 5 kinds, Value,Growth, Small cap, mid cap, index fund plus
    Allied capital
    Midcap SPDR Tr series 1
    Blackrock S& P
    TR Price Prime Res Fund
    Shaw Pittman Investors fund
    1/8 interest in a Cottage in Knocklong, Limerick, Ireland
    Chevy Chase Bank accounts
    Wachovia account
    C Schwab Muni M Fund

    Blockbuster (sold)
    Becton Dickenson
    Times Warner

    Spouse's non investment Income (that would be Mrs. Roberts)  in 2006, she earned a salary from Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, doesn't say how much

    Poor Baby. He's practically destitute.

    "Toads of Glory, slugs of joy... as he trotted down the path before a dragon ate him"-Alex Hall/ Stop McClintock

    by AmericanRiverCanyon on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 12:25:59 PM PST

    •  That's exactly the point about Roberts (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      apdva, dedmonds, Rich in PA, Lujane, hyper

      He doesn't care about the Supreme Court salary.  He's a millionaire many times over from his private practice, and was before he took this job, and his wife continues to earn a huge huge salary -- many, many times what he makes. So he gets an extra $5000 a year -- it doesn't matter to him personally.   He's already way too rich to care.

      His statements are in his role as CJ, and he is making the point for all judges in the federal system, exactly the same point Ginsberg, Breyer, and Stevens have made. The problem is not for the Supreme court. The problem is the lower courts.  The reason he says it is (1) because it's his job as CJ to make that point for all federal judges, and (2) because the only way it gets attention is if the CJ says it.

      THIS IS NOT ABOUT ROBERTS'S INCOME.  It is not about a Supreme Court justice.  Read the article. It is not intellectually honest to say that Roberts is saying this to get more money for himself.

      •  Exactly- Roberts is right on this one. (6+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        apdva, dedmonds, Argyrios, coffeetalk, Lujane, hyper

        If Ginzburg were the Chief Justice, heck if Abner Mikva were the Chief Justice, he's be making exactly the pitch Roberts is making now.

        -5.38/-3.74 I've suffered for my country. Now it's your turn! --John McCain with apologies to Monty Python's "Protest Song"

        by Rich in PA on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 12:52:23 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Are there any more Democrats posting on dailykos (0+ / 0-)

        .... anymore or are there only ex Republican staffers, attorneys of either party, and other detritus?

        I never claimed Roberts is in it to make money just for himself.  But obviously he's in it to make money just for his friends, so we'd end up with a whole bunch of ultra conservative wealthy judges who think that they deserve to be ultra wealthy because their version of God wills this.  

        Gee whiz, I wonder how he got so wealthy.  

        "Toads of Glory, slugs of joy... as he trotted down the path before a dragon ate him"-Alex Hall/ Stop McClintock

        by AmericanRiverCanyon on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 04:25:49 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Funny, I don't consider all the Clinton (0+ / 0-)

          appointees here in Louisiana, who would benefit from that raise, to be "friends" of Roberts. In fact, I know anecdotally (from lawyer type gossip -- I know people who knew Byron White and Lewis Powell and know Scalia), that Roberts' "friends" tend to be what we lawyers call "white shoe" corporate law firm types.  Not the district court judges, where the pay raise matters most.  

  •  Disagree (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pd, Argyrios, Rich in PA, futurebird

    Judges are critical to democracy. They have spent years educating themselves. The cost of living should be applied to their salary, just as it should for anybody.

    Canada - where a pack of smokes is ten bucks and a heart transplant is free.

    by dpc on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 12:29:38 PM PST

  •  I'm sorry, but $200k _is_ that much money. (4+ / 0-)

    I don't give a flying fuck how much it costs to keep up your lifestyle. You knew what you would have to do when you accepted the appointment. Two hundred thousand dollars is a hell of a lot of money. Period. Other people getting more doesn't make this a small amount.

  •  This is A Ridiculous Thread (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joe Bob, Pd, Argyrios, coffeetalk

    Tying judges salary to inflation is not unreasonable.  

  •  If this asshole don't like the pay scale......... (0+ / 0-)

    I suggest he resign on or about January 21, 2009.  I think we can find some liberal judges who won't mind the low pay and long hours.

    "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex" Dwight D. Eisenhower

    by bobdevo on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 12:39:52 PM PST

  •  COLA for all (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Argyrios, Lujane

    I do not object to the idea that federal judges deserve cost of living increases. I do not object to the idea that Congress deserves a cost of living increases. Roberts isn't wrong that those judges deserve that consideration, so do every minimum wage worker in the US.  The problem is the system is broken, and Congress broke it. They took care of themselves and said to hell with everyone else when they automated their own cost of living increases.  That automatic cost of living increase for Congress does a disservice to both ends of the spectrum. It makes it possible for federal judges to go for years without such increases, but even more tragically it denies that increase to minimum wage workers.

    That automatic increase either needs to be eliminated, or it needs to have a few other things attached to it, like minimum wage. Without a COLA increase for all, Congress needs to do without.

  •  He's not complaining for himself. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pd, coffeetalk, Lujane, futurebird, hyper

    The most senior judges enjoy intangible benefits that compensate the lowish salary.  But a garden-variety federal judge doesn't enjoy those benefits, and I accept at face value the idea that if we don't pay federal judges more than a first-year associate who's just graduated from a top law school, we won't get good judges except by happenstance.  

    -5.38/-3.74 I've suffered for my country. Now it's your turn! --John McCain with apologies to Monty Python's "Protest Song"

    by Rich in PA on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 12:51:01 PM PST

  •  We will all accept his resignation in protest (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Answer Guy

    gladly, proudly, and very, very, quickly.

    "The past isn't dead. It isn't even past." -William Faulkner

    by LeftHandedMan on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 12:56:41 PM PST

  •  I actually agree with Roberts (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    arodb, futurebird

    but I still love your snark.

    There are more men in the gay bar, than fag bashers outside the gay bar. Do something.

    by RfrancisR on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 12:58:05 PM PST

  •  I'm sure Gonzo could give him a recommendation. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    There is no avant garde. There are only people who are a little late. --Edgar Varese

    by thepdxbikerboy on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 01:01:05 PM PST

  •  How about raising my jury duty pay? (4+ / 0-)

    It's been $5/day for the past 20 years.

  •  If he didn't like the salary, he shouldn't (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Answer Guy

    have accepted the job. If he's no longer satisfied with the salary, he should quit. That's what the rest of Americans do.

  •  Hmmm... (3+ / 0-)

    Maybe if we had more judges who had to struggle a bit more to make ends meet, we wouldn't have so many corporatist judges.  

    Stuck Between Stations : Thoughts from a bottomless pool of useless information.

    by Answer Guy on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 01:09:21 PM PST

  •  Jeez (3+ / 0-)

    We could live like King & Queen at my house on $100,000 a year.

    Cry me a river...

  •  if he's unhappy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    He's more than welcome to resign.

    And to take his buddies with him.

  •  I hear there are plenty jobs available but (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Americans won't take them because they don't pay enough.

    If only those people could ask for a salary increase, I guess unemployment would be at a minimum.

    Of course, all snark.

  •  Silly diary..... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If AIG, as only one example,  had been allowed to go into chapter 11, instead of a hundred billion and counting in bailout, there would have been a new de facto CEO, a federal bankruptcy judge.

    He would have had the job that the current CEO, making tens of million, couldn't pull off, providing a functioning company.  

    With this responsibility, the diarist claiming that the individual who does this job should only be someone who is willing to work for a fraction of what he could get as a partner in a law firm, and an even smaller fraction if a top corporate exec.

    And there is a relationship between pay and corruption. This site, which values government as an effective part of society, should be the last to buy into that resentment of competitive pay to get those who will do the job competently.

    •  This needs to be said twice: (3+ / 0-)

      This site, which values government as an effective part of society, should be the last to buy into that resentment of competitive pay to get those who will do the job competently.

      I'm kinda shocked to see this on the rec list to be honest.

      •  If you are saying 200K is not competitive pay (0+ / 0-)

        I have got some property I am looking to sell...

        And yes I know how much a partner at a firm can make...but I would suggest there are more than enough lawyers out there that the pool will still be full of qualified candidates.

        This is the same arguments CEOS are making about why they must have their bonuses...

        It doesn't fly with them, and it doesn't fly in this case.   There will always be more competitive offers out there unless you plan on paying Federal judges 500k a year.   The question is indeed is this at least competitive.  Maybe we need a federal judiciary not made up of folks who used to make millions of dollars a year or looking to make as much when the quit.  Who knows, maybe they would follow the actual law a bit more.

        Need Support Barack? Give Joe Lieberman and Rick Warren a call. Maybe they can help you.

        by justmy2 on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 06:22:59 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Dear Justice Stevens (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Many Americans would be ecstatic with 1/2 that amount. You have never shown a shred of sympathy toward their plight. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

    •  And I think the CJ can G****H! (0+ / 0-)

      Especailly, considering how their ideology that motivates their decision making screws the poorest and least able to defend themselves in society. As Far as I am considered, the CJ can "GO F****** HIMSELF!" Lord knows, he's doing it to everyone else, and I don't think anyone is particularily enjoying it.

      •  I apologize for my tone (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        But in all honesty, it is really how a I feel. It just kills me these nasty, mean and vicious big shots whine about how hard their lives are, when you know they don't give on hoot about the people who their so called "learned counsel" hurts. I think what is even worse is guys like the CJ really beliveve they acting in the best interest of all and with no intent other than "to serve". The problem is, they don't get it! I apologize for the tone, but sometimes listening to these guys is more than I can stand. Sorry to all who may have taken offense. My comment was undignified.

    •  Ouch!! In the immortal words of Dan Quayle (0+ / 0-)

      "A mind is a terrible thing to lose. Or not to have at all. How true. How true."

      Of course I meant Roberts, not Stevens. D'oh!

  •  Problem Solved... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If you don't make enough money then you have the wrong job. If you feel you have the right job for yourself then stop complaining about salary. $217, 000 more than doubles my household income so no sympathy from me.

  •  I fully agree that a pay increase is warranted (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    drewfromct, futurebird

    Perhaps after the financial crisis is solved this situation can be looked at again.

    To have faith in the power of a human being is no crime. The crime is to have no faith in your fellow human being.

    by RElland on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 01:27:42 PM PST

  •  This is silliness. (3+ / 0-)

    Talented people should not have to give up millions of dollars in lost wages in order to serve in important but unglamorous government positions.  What you're advocating for is a government run by the corrupt and the incompetent.

    You have to pay the refs, or else you get the NBA.  If you're underpaid, welcome to the club.  This is Bush's America.  That doesn't mean it's a good thing.

  •  I will say this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    How many truly qualified judges and lawyers are out there who go to high paying jobs instead of low paying governmental positions?
    That's why I agree that a pay raise is in order. But maybe such things as the economic meltdown should be looked at first before looking at themselves.

    To have faith in the power of a human being is no crime. The crime is to have no faith in your fellow human being.

    by RElland on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 01:32:23 PM PST

  •  Who should make the big bucks? (0+ / 0-)

    I think the governmental jobs that require skill, i.e., scientists, security personnel, technology personnel and the like should at least make equal pay to the private sector, because we want those with great skill and knowledge working for us, We The People, the Government.

    I believe, and maybe I'm wrong, but there's a set number of those type of people in their respective fields.

    Judges, on the other hand, mostly used to be lawyers.  Lawyers, there's no shortage of.

    So the argument that we would have better judges if they could make near what they could earn in the private sector, I think, is not valid.

    I'd rather see someone who doesn't care about money become a judge; one who loves the law and loves people and wants to get that position to do the right thing.  Maybe I'm not saying it right; but I would trust a person who wants to be a judge not caring about the salary versus one that does.

    Obama, rightfully, was praised by turning down a lucrative salary in order to be a community organizer.  It was in his heart and spirit.  Why isn't the same applied to lawyers?  If a lawyer doesn't want to be a judge because it doesn't pay enough, I'm happy that person won't be a judge.

    •  Well, it was a bit easier for Obama (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joe Bob, futurebird

      to give up a big corporate law fim salary when Michelle was making a big corporate law firm salary at Sidley Austin, and she later brought in significant income in other jobs and on corporate boards.  The total Obama income in 2006 was something close to $1 million, and since Obama only made a bit over $150,000 as a Senator, most of that was from Michelle's salary and service on a number of corporate boards.  I suspect it would have been more difficult for Obama to make that decision if he were the sole support for his family.  

      Ironically, that's where some of the local federal district judgeships are going, just in my anecdotal experience.  To lawyers whose spouses are making big bucks with corporate law firms.  So the judicial salary is less important.  

      •  I think he wrote some books if I remember. (0+ / 0-)

        I looked at the returns when they were posted. Royalty income has been pretty significant from 2005 on.

        So much for scrambling my password and email to cut back on my Daily Krack -- bad dad

        by the ghost of bad dad on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 05:24:42 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  True (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          the ghost of bad dad

          my only point is that it's easier to decide to forgo the big salary and be a community organizer when your spouse is in private practice making the big salary.  There's nothing wrong with that, of course, but I'd hate for most of the people who go into the judiciary to be those who feel like they can afford it because they are married to another lawyer who is in private practice making the big salary.  Unfortunately, that's happened for federal judgships too often.  

    •  Good lawyers aren't plentiful (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      the ghost of bad dad

      In every field there are people that are good and bad at their job. It's the old joke : What do you call the person that graduated last at medical school? A doctor. There is no shortage of police officer applicants but to find good ones you have to pay. It's the same way with lawyers. There are plenty of hacks that would jump at the chance to be judges and who would get a pay increase because of it. We don't want those people being judges though.

      If a private company announced they were slashing pay by 5% because they wanted only employees that were in it only for the love of what they did everyone would think that absurd. The only people that would stay were people who could not find equal work elsewhere. Likewise if a company responded to a cost of living increase request by saying that if you were at the job only for the salary we don't want you there then there'd be a similar response.

      •  I disagree. (0+ / 0-)

        I think good, if not great lawyers are plentiful.  Sure, there's many not so good lawyers, but I think they're in the minority.

      •  That's it exactly (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TheChop, the ghost of bad dad

        I once had a state court judge who bragged -- in front of my client -- that he was last in his law school class and that his grades were so bad that they tried to get him to drop out -- "but here I am a judge!"  That didn't inspire a lot of confidence in my client.  How would you feel if, right before a heart bypass, your surgeon bragged to you that he was last in his medical school class???

  •  Boo, Fucking Hoo, John... (2+ / 0-)

    I'll GLADY take your 200+K a year job and you can have mine!

    It comes with a 55K yearly salary, a trashed 401K, and rising health fees!

  •  Incentive program (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    would be a good idea.

    For instance, every time the Court rules in favor of We The People, they get a .005% increase in salary.

    Every time the Court rules in favor of corporations, they get no raise or they get a decrease in salary.

    See how this works?  

  •  I do not agree with the diarist. (5+ / 0-)

    John Roberts is acting as a leader for all judges in the federal system.  This is not necessarily the most tactful time to make the request, but that does not make what he is doing whining.  He wasn't looking for a raise, just a cost of living adjustment.  Moreover it is the job of every employee to look out for his or her salary.  I applaud him for standing up for the well-being of his fellow judges.  

  •  Roberts should follow Ridge's lead (0+ / 0-)

    Ridge, in the past, had declined to be specific when answering questions regarding his future. In July there were reports Ridge told colleagues he was considering stepping down after the election because of job stresses and the need to earn money in the private sector to pay his children's college costs.

    See how much he can make?

    Ridge reportedly had agreed to a lobbying contract of roughly $500,000 nearly two years ago but never registered with the Department of Justice.

    Ridge earned $175,700 as Cabinet Secretary.

    •  $175,000 is absurd (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      In a city as expensive as DC a person that's on the Presidential succession list should be making more than middle managers.

      The salaries are low because it's a political hot potato. Raising cabinet level posts to even an absurd in the other direction $1 million a year salary would not even be felt in the federal budget. Just everyone knows asking for a raise has a chance of losing your votes.  There's only political reasons to keep the salaries so low and none that are policy driven.

      •  priorities my friend... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        What type of lifestyle are you looking at?  $175k is more than enough in DC.  Tell the other 95% of gov workers making less than 100k that life is miserable at 200k...

        Now of course if you want the 2 million dollar home and 3 Mercedes in you driveway, well it may be a bit light from a pay standpoint...

        we are really spoiled...

        Need Support Barack? Give Joe Lieberman and Rick Warren a call. Maybe they can help you.

        by justmy2 on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 06:25:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  A solution (0+ / 0-)

          We should just make all high level government employees live in a two bedroom apartment, give them $25 a day for entertainment/expenses, make them eat at a government cafeteria and pay all their utilities. It's more than enough!

      •  I agree that (0+ / 0-)

        $175,000 is absurd

        It should be half that, especially with all their expenses paid.

  •  There are people losing their jobs and sleeping (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SallyCat, AmericanRiverCanyon

    in the streets. $217k is plenty.

    Happy Holidays to all of you!

    by Stella 4 Obama on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 01:45:06 PM PST

  •  As a former city employee (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joe Bob, apdva, futurebird

    The city I used to work for had this become a major issue in a local election a year ago. It wasn't the judge they were concerned about but the other employees. It's easy to get pissed at government employees making money when there's a recession going on and the guy working in a factory is making a quarter of that with no job security. But the truth is you get what you pay for. If you want city planners that know what they're doing, good police officers, good judges, good legislators, etc. you have to pay for them.

    The best politicians I've met have been people who were not in it for the glory and the ego stroke. One of our biggest problems with elected office is we mostly have people serving who are doing it not for the public service but so they can call themselves Senators, Congressmen, etc.

    •  Exactly! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      apdva, the ghost of bad dad

      Here in NYC the post and Fox news loves to do stories about how "government workers are overpaid" -- it's away to divide the upper-middle class and the middle class in to a squabble over table scraps.

      It keeps people from thinking about where MOST of the money is going.

      Populist bullshit.

      That's what I call it.

  •  What An Egomaniac (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Go away John Roberts.  Go far, far away.  $217,000 a year and you can't make it.  That's a great message to send to the middle class of America which is just fighting for its life to make ends meet.  Yeesh.  What a complete schmuck.

    •  Did you even read the article or any of the (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joe Bob, the ghost of bad dad

      comments?  Roberts is not complaining about his own salary.  He's already a millionaire many times over.  He doesn't care about what he is paid.  He is doing what every CJ has to do as part of his job -- advocate for pay rasies for the federal judiciary -- the local judges here in New Orleans, or in Baton Rouge, or Shreveport, Louisiana, or the thousands of other federal district judges who make far far less than a good divorce lawyer or personal injury lawyer in their city can make, and who gave up incomes far more than what they are paid now to be federal judges.  He is asking for a Cost of Living Increase for them.  He is in no way, shape or form implying that he can't make it on his salary.  He is saying exactly the same thing that Stevens, Ginsburg, Breyer and other Supreme Court justices say -- the federal judiciary -- not them personally -- needs to included in cost of living increases.  

      •  I think you are comparing (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        public vs private sectors, even though the same profession in this sentence "good divorce lawyer or personal injury lawyer in their city can make". Sure, private sectors beats every time, even though it is a lawyer for what ever easy subcase  you lawyers say.

        But relatively to the whole society, I don't think, if it is underpaid.

        What we have are overpaid divorces lawyers, don't you think?

        •  That's a legitimate point (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          and I've discussed in other comments why I think the average federal judge here in New Orleans or in other towns and cities across the country deserves a cost of living increase, which is what Roberts said.  I'm open to legitimate discussion on that point.

          My comment above was to the effect that anybody who thinks that this is about Roberts' own ego or Roberts saying he couldn't make it on his salary (the comment I responded to) obviously had no real idea what Roberts was saying or what the issue was about.  

          •  I agree with you on the point about Roberts (0+ / 0-)

            I have no idea about the actual figures in New Orleans. They are likely lower than other areas but I just guess they ought to be relative to the region. If it is underpaid comparing to other professional public sectors (say academic professors at state universities and doctors at public hospitals) in the same region, then a raise is justified.

  •  THEY DESERVE MORE... (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joe Bob, Cody, VirginiaDem, apdva, mdsiamese, VClib

      As a lawyer, I find the low pay of Supreme Court and other federal judges to be obscene.  More and more good lawyers are turning down what used to be the capstone of a legal career because of family obligations.  We deserve the best.  I've been exposed to corporate law and public interest law.  Sadly, I'm finding corporate law commands the brain power and respect.  The playing field is so unlevel that I wonder whether justice exists.  

      Also, from a constitutional perspective, it troubles me that an equal branch of government is so poorly compensated compared to the presidency.  The calibre of federal judges is already decreasing.  Law students earn as much.  Do we truly want only those born to wealth to serve?  

       Someone suggested federal judges receive compensation equal to law school professors.  And they did not insist on Harvard law pay.  The suggestion has great merit to me.

    •  pardon my ignorance (0+ / 0-)

      but the diary said "Federal trial judges are paid $169,300 a year" + benefit, pretty in tunes with full professors at top notch school, if not higher.

      Maybe you can provide me some pay figures for judges which deem not adequate?

      Or maybe my life style just not high enough.

      •  Only if you're looking (0+ / 0-)

        at the average salary for a full professor. That average is dragged down by the faculty in the social sciences and humanities. Full professors in the mathematical and physical sciences, engineering, law, medicine, business, and other professional disciplines are making way more than $169,300 a year. The National Institutes of Health ties the maximum allowable salary for an investigator on a research grant to the Executive Level I of the federal pay scale (which was $191,300 in calendar year 2008). Any investigator making more than that (and there are plenty, particularly at teaching hospitals and medical schools, where the salaries have to be competitive with what the individuals could make in private practice or there wouldn't be teaching hospitals or medical schools worth attending) has to pro-rate his/her salary request on NIH grants to that maximum. And it routinely happens.

        •  I actually doubt this (0+ / 0-)

          "Full professors in the mathematical and physical sciences, engineering, law, medicine, business, and other professional disciplines are making way more than $169,300 a year."

          Maybe you are talking about endowed professors at Havard or MIT but full engineering professors at top 10 schools (say stanford, berkeley, UCLA, GA tech, Illinois etc...) salary is around $110-$150K. I am talking about what I actually know, I think you can google it if needed.

          Medical professors may have join appointment with hospitals in addition to academic positions, hence higher salary. Business professors often have consulting work.

          Humanities and social science, I believe full professor salary is about $80-120K.

          Engineering assistant professors (with PhD of courses) are between $60-80K, less than many MS degree in private sectors.

          This may change from region to region. In big city like New York, the figure may be higher but the median income of all people is also higher. $163K may not be as meaning in New York vs other places.

          But in average, national median income is 50K and $163K is 3x that and in my opnion $163K + benefit for judges is comfortable enough virtually every where.

          Until one looks to a millionaire CEO neighbor or read too many finance/business magazines to think that $163K/year is low.

          What I am trying to say when coming to professional salary is that one has to put it in relative. I think the median incomes of all profession is relatively fair. They are set by free market (demand/supply) after all, albeit they are influenced by other social forces, including policy.

          •  I don't need to rely on Google (0+ / 0-)

            I work in research administration, and consequently have access to the salary data for my own university. While we're a Research I institution, we are by no means top-tier. And I personally know numerous faculty in the hard sciences who are making over $100,000 per year. Several of them aren't even full professors. Extrapolating from that to some of the really big STEM institutions, it's not at all difficult to imagine that there are full profs out there making at least $169k/yr.

            According to the American Chemical Society's 2006 salary survey (PDF link; the most recent one available on their public website), the median salary for a full professor with a Ph.D. on a 9- or 10-month contract was $86,460. According to their 2007 starting salary survey (PDF link), the median starting salary for a Ph.D. chemist with less than a year's experience in 2007 was $75,000 (though that's not restricted just to academic positions).

            •  exactly (0+ / 0-)

              According to their 2007 starting salary survey (PDF link), the median starting salary for a Ph.D. chemist with less than a year's experience in 2007 was $75,000

              We are talking about median here and that figure is about right!

              While we're a Research I institution, we are by no means top-tier. And I personally know numerous faculty in the hard sciences who are making over $100,000 per year.

              100K, totally agree. But are we talking about $163K?

              •  My point being (0+ / 0-)

                if they're making $100k/yr at my little institution, $163k/yr is not out of the realm of possibility at top-tier schools.--and that's still $30k/yr below the maximum allowed investigator salary last year on an NIH research grant. Plus, in at least one case, one of the faculty I know who's making more than $100k/yr isn't even a full professor--and he was making that level of salary even before he took an interim appointment as a department chair. The last time the chemistry department hired new faculty, they all started at around $60k/yr--fresh out of their postdoc. You know they'll be making $100k/yr before they hit full professor, or not long afterward.

      •  Law School Professor Salaries (0+ / 0-)

        From the University of Michigan, a top ten law school.

        Please note - many academic salaries are only 9 month salaries - so these salaries are only 3/4 of a yearly salary...

  •  Librarian with advanced degree... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AmericanRiverCanyon, iBlue

    and I make under $50,000, and my husband, a school teacher of 25 years, who also has a law degree, and was sent to Vietnam as a pilot, makes just over $50,000.  But we consider ourselves LUCKY!  Together, we're among the top income earners in the world.  Too bad for those poor judges.

  •  It can be tough to live like a king (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    on that kind of income.

    But since when were Justices of the Supreme Court kings?

    I, for one, would welcome Roberts' resignation owing to this hardship.

    "Food. Can't live without it. Can't live with it."

    by zackamac on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 02:15:00 PM PST

  •  We need law-oriented Kos spinoff. (15+ / 0-)

    First, because rule of law is a huge issue and this site has plenty of thoughtful legal professionals to weigh in on legal topics.

    Second, because this entire thread is yet another example of a large portion of this site that doesn't understand legal issues.  I cringe at the idea of block quotes that will pop up on right-wing sites from this thread.

    One more time for those of you that don't like what Roberts had to say:

    1.  John Roberts was not advocating for his own pay raise.  John Roberts was not speaking out of avarice here.  He was arguing in favor of the logic that you can't be FOR the rule of law and AGAINST a well-compensated, professional judiciary.
    1.  John Roberts was speaking up for the branch for which he serves as nominal head.  And, candidly, the federal judiciary is a bargain at any price:  Its the best performing branch of the federal government by far-- a system that people who actually know (i.e. lawyers) have inveterate faith in for its high standards, fair-mindedness, and efficient operation.
    1.  This has nothing to do with the jurisprudence of John Roberts. I frequently differ with the Chief Justice (but do so with the humble recognition that he's a legal superstar whose abilities far outstrip mine).  But most of the mayhem that conservative legal thinkers produce has everything to do with the shortcomings of the other two branches which (a) frequently overstep their power (that would be the Executive) and (b) constantly write bad laws that require extensive judicial interpretation (that would be the Legislative).

    John Roberts' comments have everything to do with the general principle that the main difference between the United States of America (history's greatest idea) and EVERYBODY ELSE is the rule of law.  And that our best legal professionals will, if not provided proper incentive, frequently choose to do well for their families rather than serve.

    This is a site grounded in the idea that government can do a little good.  If you like good government, pay your people.

    An idea is not a bad idea just because a Republican offered it.  Goodness.

    •  This thread shows the worst of this site (10+ / 0-)

      I see exactly what happened here.  Lots of people saw a headline that appeared to be bashing Roberts, and immediately hit Recommend and posted a comment saying, "Roberts is an asshole" without any attempt whatsoever to understand what the issue was and without any effort to comment on the real issue raised -- whether federal judges should get a cost of living increase.  Bashing Roberts is enough -- it doesn't matter if there is any legitmacy behind it on this particuar issue.  

      Sadly, that's not an example of the best the site has to offer, to put it mildly.  

      •  If you think this thread's content (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joe Bob, Pd, mdsiamese

        represents "the worst of this site", you obviously haven't been reading many I/P threads.

        •  You're right -- those are worse (4+ / 0-)

          I stay away from those.  People in those just bash anybody on the other side without making any coherent points, much of the time anyway.

          I guess I see a little similarity here (on a much smaller scale).  Roberts is the enemy, so let's take every opportunity to call him an asshole.  Doesn't matter what the point is.  

          •  And regarding Roberts... (7+ / 0-)

            I don't agree with his views, and I don't like the decisions he's sided with on the court, but...

            At his former firm, Hogan, he had a reputation for being one of the nicest people to work for.  He was very courteous and kind to staff (which is a real issue for a lot of staff at big firms).  In a firm with 1000+ lawyers, he was actually quite respected there, despite his views.  (Hogan is considered one of the "Democratic" DC firms, including being Sandy Berger's former firm.)

            People I know who worked with him had only good things to say about him as a person and as a lawyer.  I still don't like his politics, and I'd still prefer someone else as Chief Justice, but it just goes to show how quick people are to smear someone they don't really know anything about because he's a Republican.  (I'm sure I've done that myself, but I try to keep my mouth shut unless I actually know what I'm talking about.)

            Hope you enjoyed it, Sarah, 'cause we just kicked your silly winking folksy lipsticked ass back to Alaska. Now shut the fuck up and stay there. Also.

            by Kaili Joy Gray on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 03:09:27 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I know someone who was a "client" in (3+ / 0-)

              a case he argued -- and won -- before the Supreme Court when he was in private practice. I think it was some kind of patent issue, not anything politically charged. That person said the same kinds of things about him. Oh, and that he was brilliant.  Being wrong politically does not necessarily make somebody stupid or an asshole.  

              •  That's why I'm keeping my fingers crossed... (0+ / 0-)

                that he'll move to the left over time.  If he's smart and good, with some screwy politics, maybe he'll see the light.  I don't keep my fingers crossed about Scalia or Thomas, but I do about Roberts.

                Hope you enjoyed it, Sarah, 'cause we just kicked your silly winking folksy lipsticked ass back to Alaska. Now shut the fuck up and stay there. Also.

                by Kaili Joy Gray on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 07:38:33 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  Roberts stupid? (0+ / 0-)

                One may not like his politics, but anyone who thinks that Chief Justice Roberts is stupid, is stupid. In his confirmation hearings he blew the socks off everyone in the room. It was really impressive.

                "let's talk about that"

                by VClib on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:48:41 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  hidden comments (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Angry Mouse

          I have trusted user status, but I rarely hr a comment. Free speech, we're all adults, etc. I probably wouldn't notice if I lost tu. But one reason I like tu is that every once in a while, just for kicks, I can go read the hidden comments. Those are definitely "the worst of this site." Good grief, there does seem to be a lot of assholish behavior on this site sometimes!

          "Every Pootie is a masterpiece." - Da Vinci

          by mdsiamese on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 03:06:41 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Please turn this into a diary (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mdsiamese, futurebird

      And I'll do my best to get you onto the rec list as a counterpoint.

    •  I totally agree with you about Roberts (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and I think he is fair and good (though he is certainly not progressive and a Bush's appointee). And I totally agree with you that what Roberts said is about the general principle.

      The only thing I disagree is that I don't think the salary for judges is inadequate relatively for all the excellent reasons have been highlighted in the diary. In short, Prez salary is only $400K, as low as mid range manager. That is for the president!

      Judge 200K+ of life-time job security (like tenure professors), relatively to the whole society, is adequate. While median income is only $50K. judges 4x, president 8x, CEO 10-15x. That seems fair enough.

      What we have is few high school hedge fund managers earning hundred millions in trading easily or CEOs earn millions (50-100+x) so you may think judges have to earn more.

      I really like what Brainwrap said "Here's the thing, though: NO ONE goes into ANY of these positions for the official salary." Period. Some really love power or genuinely love serving people (see previous SCOTUS life), what ever, and the money is more than enough to let the whole family lives comfortably, if not luxurily. Just not rich.

      If one wants to earn a lot of moneys (millions yearly), go to work for private companies or open their own firms.

      Thus, I think Roberts complains about salary is not a very strong argument. Maybe a little bit increase as symbolic but not much.

      •  salaries (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pd, vets74

        Roberts was complaining about not getting a COLA when the rest of the federal government is getting one. And yes, nobody takes such a position for the salary. But fair compensation and equal treatment is, as Roberts says, a modest request, one that I think he has every right to make for the entire judiciary.

        "Every Pootie is a masterpiece." - Da Vinci

        by mdsiamese on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 03:09:53 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  well that is aiming pretty low... (0+ / 0-)

      And, candidly, the federal judiciary is a bargain at any price:  Its the best performing branch of the federal government by far

      Need Support Barack? Give Joe Lieberman and Rick Warren a call. Maybe they can help you.

      by justmy2 on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 06:14:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  excellent diary about salary (0+ / 0-)

    in general, not just SCOTUS's. Pointing out both pros and cons, and all the supporting arguments are dead right. Thanks.

  •  Lawyer Trashing (8+ / 0-)

      I wonder how much of the discussion would change if another profession were discussed.  In my personal life, I run into otherwise normal people who say the most rude and ignorant comments regarding lawyers.  When I lived in Manhattan, people were much more sophisticated concerning the work of most lawyers.  Now, unfortunate circumstances have placed me in the exurbs.  There is no sophistication regarding legal services.  We are all the enemy, even when we are representing them to the best of our ability.  Public interest lawyers are heaped with the same scorn as ambulance chasers.

       Personally, I am proud to be part of the profession.  

    •  We'd apparently be much better off... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joe Bob, mdsiamese

      letting the mob adjuicate matters without process.

    •  I didn't read all the comments (0+ / 0-)

      but I think the diary does not scold lawyers. It just talks about the salary issue raised by Roberts. And while it somewhat lacks the acknowledging that what Roberts said is more about the general principle than Roberts himself (as Crooked River Progressive said), I think the salary argument of the diary is strong and convincing.

      •  Not the diary, but plenty of comments. (6+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joe Bob, Pd, mdsiamese, tosser, dedmonds, futurebird

        It can get pretty ugly when the issue of lawyers and/or judges comes up.  People say some truly ignorant, ugly things that would never be tolerated if you were talking about other professions (except maybe lobbying).

        Hope you enjoyed it, Sarah, 'cause we just kicked your silly winking folksy lipsticked ass back to Alaska. Now shut the fuck up and stay there. Also.

        by Kaili Joy Gray on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 03:02:27 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Stop acting like sharks when blood is in the H20 (0+ / 0-)

          ... and get back with us.  All it takes is a few really rotten judicial experiences for the average person without a law degree, at the mercy of these overbearing thugs, and maybe you'd see it differently.

          If anything, the comments have been too mild. Every time I get called for jury duty I have to write out in detail why I can't be objective and I dread voir dire in ways you have no comprehension of, having to explain why so I get kicked off the jury pool, to the rest of you it's all just a big game screwing the little people, tra la la la.  

          Roberts as the Great Leader of The Poor Downtrodden Impoverished Judiciary, crying out for their financial liberation.  Now that's got to be some sort of joke.

          "Toads of Glory, slugs of joy... as he trotted down the path before a dragon ate him"-Alex Hall/ Stop McClintock

          by AmericanRiverCanyon on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 04:45:13 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Uh, no. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Instead... how about government salary caps on anyone making over $100k...


    If they don't want the job, they can refuse it.

    Why should they get salary increases when the rest of us in America are taking pay cuts.

    Republicans like Roberts ARE the problem with America.

  •  I'll do the job for 100K. n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Air strikes on cities intentionally kill innocent people just like a suicide bomber in a café does. The only difference is the size of the bombs.

    by expatjourno on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 02:56:33 PM PST

  •  thank you for update 4 (5+ / 0-)

    UPDATE x4: OK, OK; The original title of this diary was "SCOTUS Chief Justice Roberts whines about his $217K salary". I've finally changed the title to reflect the fact that Roberts was referring to all federal judges, not just himself, and, more significantly, the larger nature of the ensuing discussion about the relative dollar value that should be accorded to SCOTUS and other judicial positions. I still hold that $160K/year or more plus full lifetime benefits should be more than ample for any honest, qualified, dedicated public servant, but I understand some of the opposing points of view.

    $160K/year plus full lifetime benefits is enough - this year. Roberts asked for the COLA that the rest of the federal govt. is getting to also be applied to the judiciary. Question - do you really think it is fair that the rest of the fed. govt. gets the COLA and the judges do not?

    "Every Pootie is a masterpiece." - Da Vinci

    by mdsiamese on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 02:58:39 PM PST

  •  Whatever happened to servant leadership? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    People shouldn't be working in the judiciary because it's a job with good pay.


    People should be working in the judiciary because they believe in justice, because they understand and choose to bear the responsibilities that come from working in the third branch that balances the executive and legislative branches.

    People should be working in the judiciary because they want a job that serves the greater good, serves the public's interest.

    Want a better paying gig? Work in corporate law for a corporation, or be awfully damned good at private practice, enough to compete for a partnership at a high-powered law firm.

    Members of the judiciary shouldn't be paid any more than senators and representatives -- and fuck the idea that they need to be paid more to prevent them from taking bribes.  Reps and senators could be bribed, too, and we simply call that illegal, we don't get extorted into paying them more to do their damned jobs.

    (BTW, nice to see you "working" so hard on a holiday, BW!)

    •  I want you to hink about the kind of people... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      apdva, the ghost of bad dad

      ...who do unpaid internships and ask yourself if you want to restrict civil service positions to only people from that social class?

      •  I work for a nonprofit (0+ / 0-)

        I can earn hundreds of dollars an hour as consultant -- I have, in fact, done that, having worked in the software industry doing competitive intelligence and for IT service providers as a project manager.

        But at this time I work for a nonprofit for what is little more than chickenfeed or monkey chow because this is what I believe in deeply. I am committed to the work required to make this democracy work.

        And I make a fraction of what federal judges make.

        Are you insulting people like me?  I should hope not.

  •  Excluding judges from the COLA (6+ / 0-)

    I can't read every comment, but I can't seem to find anybody that recognizes Roberts' main point - the entire federal govt. except the judges will get a COLA. Why exclude the judges? Regardless of whether they make enough, why exclude them? I know non-judge govt. employees that make 6 figures, including me, and we're all getting a COLA. Why exclude the judges?

    "Every Pootie is a masterpiece." - Da Vinci

    by mdsiamese on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 03:14:48 PM PST

  •  The whining of the over-privileged (3+ / 0-)

    gets more than a bit tiresome.

    My customers are lawyers.  There's a specific, designated pot of money I am supposed to be paid from.  There is a federal form, the HUD "RESPA" that itemizes how every dime of that pot of money gets distributed, including my fee in every case, so no one can plead ignorance.  Nonetheless, fully 20% of the time the lawyers somehow manage not to pay me.  Now, my annual inccome is usually somewhere in the 30k-40k range.  But apparently these poor victimized lawyers, or at least one out of every five of them, feels perfectly justified in stealing the money I'm supposed to be paid for the work I did.  Oh, I'm sorry, let me correct that to the lawyerese, not steling "converting".  But all lawyers agree that they are morally superior to the rest of us.  Well, I pay my bills Mr/Ms Lawyer, do you?  One out of five of you doesn't.  And the rest always rise in solidarity with those 20%.

    This sig line is in foreclosure. For details on acquiring a credit default swap on this sig line, contact H. Paulson, Dept of the Treasury, c/o Goldman, Sachs

    by ActivistGuy on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 03:17:43 PM PST

  •  they should all make a min of 500k (4+ / 0-)

    Seems a bit generous, but I promise you...its cheap. Plus it buys loyalty to the constitution and to the institution.

  •  Yes (3+ / 0-)

    Pay the president at least 1 million. Senators and house reps at least 500k. Judges 350k. Federal prosecutors 250k. SCOTUS 500k These people should be making more money.

  •  Give 'em a raise... (4+ / 0-) is an important job.

    If missiles were falling where my two daughters sleep, I would do everything in order to stop that. -- President-Elect Barack Obama

    by JPhurst on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 04:22:40 PM PST

  •  The premise of this post is wrong (4+ / 0-)

    Being a good judge isn't easy work, in fact it is incredibly difficult and important.  

    For example, as a trial attorney I specialize in an area of the law.  This allows me to assess/predict whether or not a case is valid or not.  Judges do not have the benefit of specializing.  They hear cases from all across the legal spectrum.   Keep that in mind as I take you through the job of a judge.

    As a lawyer, I then spend a year or more working on developing the facts, and researching the law.  I spend weeks, if not months on a single case.  Also, I may have help from an associate, paralegal, or co-counsel in working on the case.  The other side has done the same.  Cases get resolved through the court system via law and motion, or a trial.  Let's look at each.

    In many cases motions are filed to ask the court to make crucial decisions of law that will likely determine the outcome of the case.  A typical dispositive motion will take 60-100 hours of work just to write the "briefs" that are filed with the court.  Then both sides show up at court, along with several (5-25) other cases, on the court's "law and motion" day for a ruling.  By the time of the hearing the judge must have read the briefs from each side (100-200 pages of dense reading), verify the factual representations made by each side, and familiarize itself with the law that applies to those facts.  Then the court is expected to issue a correct ruling.

    Or, in the case of trial, the judge is suppose to learn the entire case, all the facts and law, and sit on the bench as a witness is testifying.  When an objection occurs to a question or a piece of evidence the court must then make a ruling, on the spot, in about 5 seconds, with no preparation at all.  

    Bottome line is it is tough work.  It is important and stressful work.  Nothing is more frustrating or destructive to our legal system than lazy judges.  There are plenty of them around.  

    Paying them below market rate is not attracting the quality you need on the bench.  The justice system, even with the best written laws, is only as good as the judges who are applying the law.  You get what you pay for.  And, like it or not, paying 200K is not going to attract top quality attorneys.

  •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I can't believe the comments agreeing with this sob.

    The point here is that the salary is beside the point.  The perks more than make up for the salary.  Just like the President - who doesn't make all that much money - it is all free and clear.  They don't have to pay for anything else!!

    •  But he's not doing this- (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      the ghost of bad dad

      just for his own pay-- it's for all fed judges.

    •  You would be the first to complain (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      when a judge made a wrong decision in a case where you were a party.  

      •  and the judges pay would relate to the decision (0+ / 0-)

        because they weren't paid enough?

        Through the looking glass we go...

        Need Support Barack? Give Joe Lieberman and Rick Warren a call. Maybe they can help you.

        by justmy2 on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 06:27:34 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  yes. frankly you get the quality you pay for. (0+ / 0-)
          •  good to know...I should only expect lawful (0+ / 0-)

            decisions from highly paid judges.

            Who knew....thanks for the clarification.

            Need Support Barack? Give Joe Lieberman and Rick Warren a call. Maybe they can help you.

            by justmy2 on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 07:14:52 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Your common sense should tell you (0+ / 0-)

              that if you offer below average pay, you will get below average results.  That is how the market economy (and human motivation) works.

              Perhaps you can click your heels together, and wish that either (1) all lawyers possess the skill, intelligence, and temperment to be a judge or (2) that those lawyers who possess the skills to be a judge will take a $250-750K pay hit for the good of society.

              Keep clicking your heels together and making wishes... it may just come true.

              •  how did Bernie Madoff do... (0+ / 0-)

                Bernie Ebbers?

                Key Lay?

                Hank Greenberg?

                John Thain?

                Should I continue?  

                Yes I believe in a market economy, but that doesn't by any means someones pay equates to their competency.  I have seen to mean examples personally and in the public domain to tell me their is more to someones skill level than their salary.

                Need Support Barack? Give Joe Lieberman and Rick Warren a call. Maybe they can help you.

                by justmy2 on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:03:21 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  You just proved my point (0+ / 0-)

                  All the people you cited had hyper self-interest.  Which proves my point, in extreem.  People are motivated by self-interest and, yes, money.  The people you list had no ethics to hold their greed in check.  This is why in a free market economy you need regulation.

                  Most people (even you and me) are motivated to a large extent by self interest.  Any system that does not recognize this will fail.  You cannot design a system of government that relies on people doing the right thing for society when it is against their personal interests... like take a difficult and stressful job for less money.

                  You are talking yourself into the correct answer to this question.  It is just taking you time to get there.  

    •  You mean like having to worry about (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      the ghost of bad dad

      getting shot to death on the job, or having family members killed or kidnapped? When you could be making ten times as much in private practice and still be able to ride the subway?

      I can't believe the people who recommended this POS diary actually think of themselves as progressives.

  •  Honestly, and I feel uncomfortable saying this, (6+ / 0-)

    but it seems there are a lot of people here bitter about their own personal incomes or circumstances.  The fact of the matter is if you're talented enough to be a federal judge, you could easily be raking it in as a partner at a big law firm or general counsel at a large corporation.  A $160k income and guaranteed job security are a sweet deal but why do you have to completely ditch the lifestyle you worked so hard to get?  No one is advocating $1 million incomes.  They just want more competitive salaries that will make it easier to choose a judgeship.  You can wax and wane about idealism and public service but this is about the practicalities of maintaining a decent legal system.

    •  Though I would say... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      the ghost of bad dad's not just about talent-- many people have the talent-- but too many don't have the resources to go to school and such.

      That is something we need to work on in the long term.

      Still I agree with the gist of your comment.

    •  I think you over generalize (0+ / 0-)

      sure, everyone wants money, the matter is the amount and the purpose (look at the guy name Buffet). Heck, I think my profession should earn at least base $200 to be fair (and I earn enough so no complain from me) but I do realize that that is pure greedy when other professions which are equally important, if not more, and which are difficult and work long hours, still pay less than mine. It is relative! What if every one want a raise, not just lawyer and federal judges? How's about clerk judge?

      So the question is $163K is enough for federal judges? If it is underpaid, I don't think by much. In my view, the current pay is comfortable enough in relative to the whole society (that is to be debated).

      Now you says that the current salary is not competitive enough when "you could easily be raking it in as a partner at a big law firm or general counsel at a large corporation." And that effectively falls to the argument public vs private sectors.

      Public sector has always pay less than private sector because of the system we so dearly love: capitalism. Where is public sectors has roughly the same pay as private sector? communism.

      It is a fact of capitalism. And I pretty sure some (or quite many) people are comfortable with their salary in  public sectors, knowing that it is less than private sectors. Those who are not happy have already quit and joined private firms. It is a free market. No one force you if you can and want to make more money.

      Will this decrease the quality of public sector? Maybe but I don't think it is a matter much. There are many talented young people waiting to be discovered. Look at the young people run Obama campaign. Look at the "inexperience" Obama. All we need is a fair system, not the kind of GWB pick. Maybe people will leave government after 20 years but after 20 years, either new talents will come or they love the job and will not move (and sure they will not be poor by then).

  •  Here's a thought (3+ / 0-)

    According to the 2007 American Community Survey (PDF link) from the Census Bureau, the median household income for all households in the U.S. (see table 1, p. 9) in 2007 inflation-adjusted dollars was $50,740. Anybody making more than that amount, and bitching about how much judges and other professionals make, should immediately stop commenting in this diary.

    Then, if you scroll down a few pages to Table 3 (p. 13), you should notice that out of the ten counties with more than 250,000 people in the U.S. with the highest median incomes, five of them (including all of the top three) are located in the D.C. metropolitan area. Same thing if you go to Table 4 on the next page, which lists the counties with populations between 65,000 and 249,999 people.

    If you scroll down several more pages to Table 8 (p. 24), you'll find that the median annual income for a male in the private sector employed in "legal occupations" was $105,233--the highest median income estimate in the entire table. (It's fascinating and distressing to look at the column for women, where the median was $53,790, presumably because "legal occupations" includes paralegals, legal secretaries, and other administrative professionals that are, presumably, far more likely to be women.)

    For those of you populist types who don't understand statistics and statistical terms, the median is the value exactly in the middle of the range: half of the data points lie above that value, and half lie below it. Meaning, for the purposes of this discussion, that half of the men in the "legal professions" earned more than $105,233 in 2007 dollars. Are you really going to make an argument that we're getting the best and the brightest if our starting salary is only $55,000 and change above the median for the profession?

  •  Judges deserve raises too. (3+ / 0-)

    These men and women are the top of the legal profession -- and they could be making millions in private practice.  I understand that 6-figures is a lot of money just looking at it without any context, but the federal government needs to stay competitive with law firms and corporations for top legal talent.  

    Indeed, the same could be said for all public sector positions -- employees that work for the federal government are woefully underpaid compared to their private sector counterparts.  Excellent lawyers, economists, analysts, scientists, etc. end up leaving for greener (money wise) pastures because their salaries stay flat in comparison to what they could be making.  And when they leave, the public suffers because talent is lost, as well as the long-term investments in training, project continuity, etc. for that person.

    So, attacking public sector employees for wanting minuscule raises is a tad off base.

  •  How about the American people... (0+ / 0-)

    getting a raise for putting up with this bullshite?

    (whine) I don't get paid enough and my wife wants a new Mercedes. I should get more for what I do(whine)

    Hmm, I wonder if they think they should get more money for giving up thier backside to the Bushites?

  •  Roberts clerked for drug addled Rehnquist. (0+ / 0-)

    Did he know?

    It's time for the Third Estate to sick the fish mongers on em...

    by JerichoJ8 on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 05:37:58 PM PST

  •  Only if they bring back warranted wiretaps, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    should their salaries be raised. And the judges have to sign them if they approve. Otherwise, no.

    You know what I mean. The 4th Amendment is followed, or no pay raise.

    •  Then again, on second thought, (0+ / 0-)

      and on a different vein, what is it with these Washington officials nowadays? It's always about the thing that there's never enough money for them and their projects, now isn't it?

      People who can't budget shouln't be accepting jobs in Washington.

  •  If the average worker (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    had the same mentality, then they could say, we need higher wages or we will 'get it', by taking money under the table?

    Lawyers are important when you need them, but they bankrupt many people who do need them.

    Ken Starr had a chauffeured limousine. Is that standard?

    The government should buy up the homes in the more expensive areas and let the judges live there at low maintenance costs.  The judges could then buy in their cheaper home town areas.

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