Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter
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Monday, February 19, 2007

I'd say the best coverage of the ongoing federal judicial salary discussion comes from Slate's Dahlia Lithwick, but the WSJ's Ben Winograd has an interesting point to make about the economic comparisons that are being used.

I like the way Lithwick critiques the arguments that Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kennedy have made, and I agree with her that perhaps the most persuasive point we have have heard was made by Kennedy: "Of the nine Article III judges who resigned in 2005, "four of those nine judges joined JAMS, a California-based arbitration/mediation service, where they have the potential to earn the equivalent of a district judge's salary in a matter of months." As Kennedy noted, "It would be troubling if the best judges were available only to those who could afford private arbitration."

I'm not so sure that this illustrates an actual trend, but she is correct that as an advocacy point this is much better than the argument that judges should be paid like law firm partners, or investment bankers, or whatever. (As Ilya Somin argues, comparisons to law professor salaries don't really fly at all.)

And I would be interested in seeing some real statistics about judges leaving the bench, or lawyers declining judicial nominations. It seems to me that the talent pool is pretty deep, and that we are a long way from any sort of crisis.

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