Justice Kennedy Argues for a Judicial Pay Increase and Against Allowing TV Cameras in the Supreme Court:

In his recent testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Justice Anthony Kennedy forcefully argued for a pay increase for judges and against allowing TV cameras in the Supreme Court.

Perhaps needless to say, I disagree with Justice Kennedy on both issues. For my critique of arguments for a judicial pay increase, see here, here, and here. In addition to the various arguments for a pay increase that I have criticized in previous posts, Justice Kennedy adds the claim that "judges are being lured off the bench into academia" because law professors supposedly have higher salaries than judges do. Unfortunately for Kennedy, there is little if any proof that significant numbers of federal judges are in fact leaving the bench to become lawprofs. Indeed, it is far more common for professors to leave academia to become judges than vice versa. I can think of numerous prominent law professors who have left academia for the judiciary. The fact (noted in the article) that one district judge recently left the bench to become Dean of Duke Law School (one of the top 15-20 schools in the country) is hardly proof of a trend.

Moreover, as Paul Caron of Taxprof Blog (a supporter of judicial pay increases) points out, the average law professor at "full professor" rank makes about $136,000/year, almost $30,000 less than the salary of a federal district judge. Only 3 of 88 law schools responding to a recenty survey cited in Caron's post reported average full professor salaries higher than $165,000/year.

As for TV coverage of the Court, I remain unpersuaded by Kennedy's arguments against it, though I won't analyze the issue in detail here. Strangely, Senator Arlen Specter, the ranking Republican member of the committee, seems to think that the Supreme Court would not be required to obey a congressional statute requiring them to allow TV coverage of oral arguments. According to the Legal Times story linked above:

If Congress did pass his bill [to require the Court to permit TV coverage of its proceedings], Specter said in a conciliatory tone, “it would be our opinion,” which could then be overtaken by “your opinion.” Specter did not explain the comment.

Specter seems to have overlooked the broad cross-ideological consensus among constitutional law scholars that Congress does in fact have the constitutional authority to override the Supreme Court's preferences on this issue.

UPDATE: For analysis of yet another flaw in the case for a judicial pay increase, see this recent post by Ben Winograd on the Wall Street Journal Blog.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Justice Kennedy Argues for a Judicial Pay Increase and Against Allowing TV Cameras in the Supreme Court:
  2. Can Congress Force the Supreme Court to Televise its Oral Arguments?
  3. Can Congress Force the Supreme Court to Televise Proceedings?: