The US Supreme Court has voted itself and all federal district and circuit judges early Christmas presents in the form of pay raises. But the increases will not be as high as some judges were seeking.
In a unanimous decision Dec. 15, the High Court ruled that Congress had violated the Constitution when it ordered a halt to judicial raises in 1976 and 1979. Speaking for the court, Chief Justice Warren E. Burger said that the Constitution forbids Congress to cut off judicial salary increases that have already taken effect.
However, the court said that Congress can cancel a planned salary hike before it goes into effect, as the lawmakers did in 1977 and 1978.
A group of federal judges had asked the high court to grant raises for all four years.
Under the ruling, the chief justice will earn $84,700 a year and his associate justices will earn $81,300. Federal circuit judges will make $65,000 and district judges $61,600. All will receive back payment for the raises which were reinstated by the ruling.