Judges Prevail in Contest over Judicial Salaries


October 31, 2013 - Judicial salaries of Article III judges have been elevated to new levels as a result of successfully concluded litigation challenging the withholding of cost-of-living increases (COLAs) by Congress. The victory came on October 30 as the government announced it would withdraw its appeal of Beer v. United States, and no longer contest the judgment of the Court of Federal Claims that adjusted judicial pay levels as an outgrowth of the decision of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in October 2012, finding that the withholding of the COLAs violated the compensation clause of the Constitution.

The government's withdrawal of its' appeal in Beer means that the judgment entered by the Court of Federal Claims will become final with respect to the six underlying judge plaintiffs. Under that judgment, the Administrative Office of the United States Courts is directed to adjust the pay for the plaintiffs to $197,100 for district court judges and $209,100 for circuit court judges. The plaintiffs also will receive back pay for the restoration of the COLAs previously denied.

The outcome in Beer may have implications for separate class action suits brought by Article III judges, bankruptcy judges, magistrate judges, and Court of Federal Claims judges also challenging the prior withholding of the COLAS.

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