Academic journal article Defense Counsel Journal

Judge's Compensation: It All Depends on Being Due and Payable

Academic journal article Defense Counsel Journal

Judge's Compensation: It All Depends on Being Due and Payable

Article excerpt

A group of U.S. federal judges failed to convince the Federal Circuit that they were denied pay raises in contravention of the federal Constitution. Williams v. United States, 240 F.3d 1019 (2001).

The judges claimed they were entitled to back pay and future cost-of-living increases under the Ethics Reform Act of 1989, which put in place, beginning in 1991, a system of yearly cost-of-living salary escalations, called COLAs, in addition to a number of reforms relating to the activities of federal employees. The act also raised judges' salaries to make up for the adverse effects of inflation and to catch up for COLAs previously withheld by Congress.

Under the act, once a determination was made by Congress in a given year that a COLA would be paid to federal employees, a COLA became payable to judges 14 effective at the beginning of the first applicable pay period commencing on or after the first day of the month in which" the COLA became effective-that is, according to the Federal Circuit, starting on the first day of the following calendar year.

For 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1999, automatic COLAs were set to go in effect for federal employees and judges on the first day of the next calendar year. But under a sort of Rube Goldberg arrangement, for each of those years Congress enacted separate legislation expressly barring the payment of the COLAs to judges. Each of these "blocking" acts became law before January 1 of the next year.

A group of federal judges commenced a class action in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, asserting that the blocking acts amounted to a diminution of their salaries in violation of Section 1, Article III, of the U. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.