Despite a guaranteed job for life, free parking, and cool uniforms, federal judges are still whining about making less than, say, your average Michael Jackson superlawyer. The Supreme Court’s chief justice, William Rehnquist, thought he had a deal late last year when Senate leaders and the White House warmed to a plan to “delink” judicial pay from the minimal annual congressional pay raise and get guaranteed yearly increases on top of their base $142,300-$198,600 salaries. He even thought he’d locked down an immediate hike of an average $25,000. But that was before his pay-plea team met with House Speaker Dennis Hastert. Just before Thanksgiving, we learn, four Supreme Court judges, including Sandra Day O’Connor and Antonin Scalia, had a private sit-down with Hastert to boohoo that lawyers want more money to become judges. His response? “It’s not going to happen,” says a leadership aide. In fact, when Hastert told fellow GOP-ers of the begging session, several grumbled that judges shouldn’t get paid better than lawmakers until they start working as hard.
Maybe if Sandra Dee fell back in line, pay would go up.