Do federal judges need a pay hike? Most definitely according to United States Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. According to Roberts, the current pay for federal judges is so inadequate that it threatens to undermine the judiciary's independence and is quickly becoming an issue of constitutional importance. At the end of every year, the Chief Justice publishes a Supreme Court report addressing various topics of importance to the Court and the public. This year, the entire report addressed only one issue – pay.

Federal district court judges are paid $165,200 annually; appeals court judges make $175,100; associate justices of the Supreme Court earn $203,000; the chief justice gets $212,100. Depending upon where you get your information, the national median salary in the United States is between $30,000 and $40,000. At first blush, you may be inclined to conclude that federal judges are paid more than enough. However, the numbers alone do not tell the whole story.

Being a judge is one of the few occupations where the skill sets necessary to succeed are for the most part not learned on the job. In order to make the legal decisions online casino that a judge must make on a daily basis requires a broad base of knowledge to pull from. This type of knowledge online casino only comes from years of experience as a practicing lawyer and this is why the topic of pay is so important when attracting candidates for the bench. Many attorneys that have the requisite amount of experience are so far along in their career of practicing law that they earn considerably more (often times double to triple) than what the federal government is able to pay. On the other hand, for lawyers who have not been practicing very long, a salary of $165,000 may very well represent a pay increase – which is not good either because the ranks of the judiciary will then be filled with inexperienced lawyers.

Similar to a professional baseball player finding the “sweet spot” on the bat, Congress needs to find the judicial pay “sweet spot” – the dollar amount that will attract well-qualified candidates without having to pay private sector salaries. Given the importance that the federal judiciary plays in our society and given that thirty-eight judges have left the federal bench in the past six years and seventeen in the past two years solving this problem is of the utmost importance. If you ever are required to stand before a judge you want to take comfort in knowing that the person deciding your legal fate is qualified.