WASHINGTON – New Chief Justice John G. Roberts, in his first year-end report on the federal judiciary, called on Congress today to raise the salaries of federal judges and to lower the rents the government charges for courthouses.
It “is a bit presumptuous for me to issue this report at this time, barely three months after taking the oath as chief justice,” said Roberts, who as leader of the Supreme Court is also head of the federal court system. “It remains for me very much a time for listening rather than speaking.”
But he said he did not want “to start the New Year by breaking with a 30-year old tradition” established by his predecessors, Chief Justices Warren Burger and William H. Rehnquist. “New Year’s Day in America means football, parades and, of course, the year-end report on the federal judiciary,” Roberts wrote.
Like Burger and Rehnquist, Roberts said federal judges deserved higher salaries. Since 1969, the real pay of federal judges, adjusted for inflation, has fallen by almost 24 percent, he said.
Congress recently approved a 1.9 percent increase for U.S. judges as of today. The salary of the chief justice will be $212,100, while the other justices of the court will earn $203,000. U.S. appeals judges will be paid $175,100, and federal district judges $165,200.
Paying the rent is a less familiar topic. The new chief justice said he, like many others, was surprised to learn that the federal judiciary must “pay a large and ever-increasing portion of its budget as rent to another part of the government – the General Services Administration.”