Federal judge salaries in the United States

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Federal judge salaries in the United States are determined by the United States Congress and are governed in part by the United States Constitution, depending in part on the court on which the judge sits. In particular, United States federal judges confirmed under Article III of the Constitution have compensation that "shall not be diminished during their continuance in office."[1] Other federal judges have salaries that may be adjusted without direct constitutional constraints, however statutory schemes usually govern these salaries. Debates over judicial salaries and their increase and treatment have occurred since the ratification of the Constitution.

Compensation varies based upon the particular judgeship, though it generally increases commensurate with the office.

Article III judges[edit]

Article III federal judges are those appointed under Article III, Section 1 of the U.S Constitution. Due to the Compensation Clause, these judges are federal judges that may not have their salaries diminished during their time in office, and are appointed to indefinite terms and may not be removed unless they resign or are impeached.

Supreme Court[edit]

The United States Supreme Court is the highest federal appellate court. Its members are commonly called justices.

The following table lists salary increases for the justices from 1789 to present.

Year Chief Justice Associate Justices 2019 inflation adjusted figures[note 1]
Chief Justice Associate Justice
1789 $4,000 $3,500 Data not available Data not available
1819 $5,000 $4,500 $83,511 $75,160
1855 $6,500 $6,000 $178,355 $164,636
1871 $8,500 $8,000 $181,404 $170,733
1873 $10,500 $10,000 $224,088 $213,417
1903 $13,000 $12,500 $369,922 $355,694
1911 $15,000 $14,500 $411,589 $397,870
1926 $20,500 $20,000 $296,055 $288,835
1946 $25,500 $25,000 $334,328 $327,773
1955 $35,500 $35,000 $338,816 $334,043
1964 $40,000 $39,500 $329,742 $325,621
1969 $62,500 $60,000 $435,742 $418,312
1975 $65,600 $63,000 $311,691 $299,338
1976 $68,800 $66,000 $309,117 $296,537
1977 $75,000 $72,000 $316,433 $303,776
1978 $79,100 $76,000 $310,064 $297,912
1979 $84,700 $81,300 $298,372 $286,395
1980 $92,400 $88,700 $286,716 $275,235
1981 $96,800 $93,000 $272,223 $261,537
1982 $100,700 $96,700 $266,786 $256,188
1984 $104,700 $100,600 $257,659 $247,569
1985 $108,400 $104,100 $257,685 $247,463
1987 $111,700 $107,200 $251,374 $241,247
1987 $115,000 $110,000 $258,801 $247,548
1990 $124,000 $118,600 $242,662 $232,095
1991 $160,600 $153,600 $301,463 $288,324
1992 $166,200 $159,000 $302,802 $289,684
1993 $171,500 $164,100 $303,532 $290,435
1998 $175,400 $167,900 $275,132 $263,368
2000 $181,400 $173,600 $269,313 $257,733
2001 $186,300 $178,300 $268,999 $257,448
2002 $192,600 $184,400 $273,774 $262,118
2003 $198,600 $190,100 $276,021 $264,207
2004 $203,000 $194,300 $274,780 $263,003
2005 $208,100 $199,200 $272,420 $260,769
2006 $212,100 $203,000 $268,994 $257,453
2008 $217,400 $208,100 $258,158 $247,115
2009 $223,500 $213,900 $266,349 $254,908
2010 $223,500 $213,900 $262,040 $250,785
2011 $223,500 $213,900 $254,016 $243,106
2012 $223,500 $213,900 $248,898 $238,208
2013 $223,500 $213,900 $245,307 $234,771
2014 $255,500 $244,400 $275,936 $266,540
2015 $258,100 $246,800 $278,391 $266,203
2016 $260,700 $249,300 $277,726 $265,581
2017 $263,300 $251,800 $274,631 $262,636
2018 $267,000 $255,300 $271,847 $259,935
2019 $270,700 $258,900 $270,700 $258,900
2020 $277,700 $265,600 N/A N/A

Appeals Court[edit]

The following is a list of salaries for judges on the United States Court of Appeals.

Year Salary 2019 inflation adjusted figures[note 1]
1891 $6,000 Data not available
1903 $7,000 $199,189
1919 $8,500 $125,346
1926 $12,500 $180,522
1946 $17,500 $229,441
1955 $25,500 $243,375
1964 $33,000 $272,038
1969 $42,500 $296,304
1975 $44,600 $211,912
1976 $46,800 $210,272
1977 $57,500 $242,599
1978 $60,700 $237,938
1979 $65,000 $228,975
1980 $70,900 $220,002
1981 $74,300 $208,948
1982 $77,300 $204,792
1984 $80,400 $197,858
1985 $83,200 $197,780
1987 $85,700 $192,863
1987 $95,000 $213,792
1990 $102,500 $200,588
1991 $132,700 $249,092
1992 $137,300 $250,148
1993 $141,700 $250,790
1998 $145,000 $227,447
2000 $149,900 $222,547
2001 $153,900 $222,216
2002 $159,100 $226,155
2003 $164,000 $227,933
2004 $167,600 $226,862
2005 $171,800 $224,900
2006 $175,100 $222,069
2008 $179,500 $213,153
2009 $184,500 $219,872
2010 $184,500 $216,315
2011 $184,500 $209,691
2012 $184,500 $205,467
2013 $184,500 $202,502
2014 $211,200 $228,092
2015 $213,300 $230,069
2016 $215,400 $229,467
2017 $217,600 $226,965
2018 $220,600 $224,605
2019 $223,700 $223,700
2020 $229,500 N/A

District Court[edit]

The following is a table of district judge salaries in the United States. District judge salaries varied based on the state prior to 1891. They were unified in 1891.

Year Minimum Maximum 2019 inflation adjusted figures[note 1]
Salaries of US district judges 1789–1867
1789 $800 $1,800 Data not available Data not available
1812 $800 $3,000 $12,052 $45,194
1816 $800 $3,100 $12,052 $46,701
1817 $800 $3,000 $12,805 $48,019
1830 $1,200 $3,500 $28,811 $84,033
1844 $1,200 $3,800 $32,927 $104,269
1847 $1,200 $3,500 $32,927 $96,038
1852 $1,200 $5,000 $36,878 $153,660
1854 $1,200 $3,500 $34,147 $99,594
1860 $1,200 $6,300 $34,147 $170,733
1862 $1,200 $3,500 $30,732 $89,635
1866 $1,200 $4,500 $20,954 $78,576
1867 $3,500 $5,000 $64,025 $91,464
Year Salary 2019 inflation adjusted figures[note 1]
Salaries of US district judges 1891–present
1891 $5,000 $142,278
1903 $6,000 $170,733
1919 $7,500 $110,600
1926 $10,000 $144,417
1946 $15,000 $196,664
1955 $22,500 $214,742
1964 $30,000 $247,307
1969 $40,000 $278,875
1975 $42,000 $199,558
1976 $44,000 $197,691
1977 $54,500 $229,942
1978 $57,500 $225,394
1979 $61,500 $216,646
1980 $67,100 $208,211
1981 $70,300 $197,699
1982 $73,100 $193,665
1984 $76,000 $187,030
1985 $78,700 $187,083
1987 $81,100 $182,511
1987 $89,500 $201,414
1990 $96,600 $189,042
1991 $125,100 $234,826
1992 $129,500 $235,938
1993 $133,600 $236,454
1998 $136,700 $214,428
2000 $141,300 $209,779
2001 $145,100 $209,510
2002 $150,000 $213,219
2003 $154,700 $215,007
2004 $158,100 $214,003
2005 $162,100 $212,202
2006 $165,200 $209,513
2008 $169,300 $201,040
2009 $174,000 $207,359
2010 $174,000 $204,005
2011 $174,000 $197,758
2012 $174,000 $193,773
2013 $174,000 $190,977
2014 $199,100 $215,025
2015 $201,100 $216,910
2016 $203,100 $216,364
2017 $205,100 $213,927
2018 $208,000 $211,776
2019 $210,900 $210,900
2020 $216,400 N/A

Court of International Trade[edit]

According to the Federal Judiciary Center, Court of International Trade judges receive the same salary as district court judges.[2]

Non Article III judges[edit]

Magistrate judges[edit]

Since 1988, the salary of magistrate judges is set by the Judicial Conference of the United States, but may not exceed 92 percent of the salary of district court judges.[3]

Bankruptcy judges[edit]

Since 1988, bankruptcy judges receive compensation equal to 92 percent of the salary of district judges. [4]

Administrative Law Judges[edit]

United States Administrative Law Judges are hired in the pay category of AL 3A and proceed on an annual basis through the steps until they reach AL 3F. The base pay for each step varies according to the location of the position and the locality pay paid in that area. This chart explains the various salary grades. Due to wage compression and the lack of any federal pay increases, most USALJs earn $168,600 annually as of 2015. ALJ pay is capped at 85% of a Level IV Senior Executive Schedule. This pay cap has resulted in severe pay compression for USALJs. As a result, many USALJs have retired or plan to retire within the next few years, resulting in a loss of experienced judges throughout the federal government. Congress has shown no interest in addressing the pay compression issue.

Tax Court judges[edit]

Judges of the Tax Court receive the same compensation as district court judges.[5]

Court of Federal Claims judges[edit]

Since 1988, judges of the Court of Federal Claims receive the same compensation as district court judges.[6]

Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces[edit]

Judges of the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces receive the same compensation as judges of the circuit courts of appeals.[7]

Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims[edit]

Judges of the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims receive the same compensation as district court judges.[8]

United States Court of Private Land Claims[edit]

United States Court for Berlin[edit]

Territorial judges[edit]

Territorial Courts are created under Article IV and exist in U.S. Territories. Only three currently exist. Compensation is fixed at the rate of regular district court judges.

Hybrid courts and others[edit]

District of Columbia courts[edit]

United States Commerce Court[edit]

The United States Commerce Court sat from 1910 to 1913. It had a staggered and limited-term membership, but consisted of Article III Appellate Court judges that would be at-large judges when not on the Court.

United States Court of Claims[edit]

The United States Court of Claims was a court that served from 1855 to 1982. It existed as both an Article I and Article III court (after 1953).

Court of Customs and Patent Appeals[edit]

The Court of Customs and Patent Appeals was a court sitting from 1909 to 1982. Its treatment as an Article I or Article III court is ambiguous; it was originally ruled an Article I court, however it was later ruled an Article III court after Congress amended the law creating it.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ U.S. Constitution, Art III, Sec 1.
  2. ^ "History of the Federal Judiciary". Federal Judiciary Center. Retrieved 11 January 2014.
  3. ^ "History of the Federal Judiciary". Federal Judiciary Center. Retrieved 11 January 2014.
  4. ^ "28 U.S.C. § 153". Cornell University Law School. Retrieved 11 January 2014.
  5. ^ "26 U.S.C. § 7443". Cornell University Law School. Retrieved 11 January 2014.
  6. ^ "28 U.S.C. § 172". Cornell University Law School. Retrieved 11 January 2014.
  7. ^ "10 U.S.C. § 942". Cornell University Law School. Retrieved 11 January 2014.
  8. ^ "38 U.S.C. § 7253". Cornell University Law School. Retrieved 11 January 2014.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Based on CPI figures. See {{Inflation}} for details.

External links[edit]