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30 Third Branch 1 (1998)

handle is hein.journals/thirdbran30 and id is 1 raw text is: THE

The 1997 Year-End
Report of the Federal
As I review the state of the Judi-
ciary this year and compare it with the
11 previous years I have served as
Chief Justice, I am impressed by the
degree to which our relations with
Congress have dominated 1997. Con-
gressional responses and initiatives on
judicial issues ranging from funding to
salaries, and
from federal
to judicial
all have had
influence on
I signfct
the Judi-

past year. The results have been
mixed-which is scarcely surprising-
and therefore we will face some of the
same challenges in 1998 that con-
fronted us in 1997. Despite the work
that remains to be done, I am encour-
aged by the Judiciary's ability to per-
form its essential role in our constitu-
tional structure of government.
Funding, Salaries, Jurisdiction, and Vacancies
I first would like to express my
gratitude to Congress for its financial
support of the Judiciary. In a time of
scarce resources, Congress responded
favorably to the careful financial plan
adopted by the Executive Committee
of the Judicial Conference of the
United States. These moneys will be
used wisely and economically. The Ju-
diciary supports fully the national
goal of eliminating the budget deficit
and has instituted a formal process to
identify and implement initiatives to
reduce or avoid costs.
I also wish to extend the thanks of
the federal judges to Congress for the
2.3 percent Employment Cost Index
(ECI) adjustment that it approved to
take effect on January 1, 1998, as well
as my appreciation to the members of
the Judicial Conference of the United
States, the Federal Judges Association,
the Magistrate Judges Association, the
National Conference of Bankruptcy
Judges, the Federal Bar Asso-
ciation, the American Bar
Association, judges, the
staff of the Administrative
Office of the United States
Courts, and various other
bar groups for all the time

of the
Federal           Oflt
Vol. 30
Number /
Special Issue
and energy they invested this year on
the issue of judicial compensation. In
particular, Ralph Mecham and his leg-
islative staff, and Judge Barefoot Sand-
ers and the members of his Committee
on the Judicial Branch, deserve special
In my last Year-End Report, I noted
that Congress had not granted federal
judges an ECI adjustment in four
years, thereby reducing judges' sala-
ries in constant dollars by 8.6 percent.
During 1997, the aforementioned
groups and organizations worked
very hard to rectify the situation. They
urged Congress both to repeal Section
140 of the Continuing Resolution Act
of December 15,1981, Public Law 97-
92 (Section 140), which provides
that no salary increases shall be
granted to federal judges without ex-
press legislative approval, and to pro-
vide a catch-up pay adjustment equal
to the ECI adjustments not granted
since 1993.
Although we are pleased that Con-
gress approved the 2.3 percent adjust-
ment, it is obviously not an enduring
solution to a problem that continues to
endanger the morale and quality of the
federal Judiciary. In general, all the ad-
justment does (assuming that inflation
in 1997 is about 2.3 percent) is to en-
sure that federal judges are, in abso-
lute terms, no worse off than they
were at the end of last year. It prevents
further deterioration of real judicial
salaries. But it does not redress previ-
ous loss, or the disparity I noted last
year between federal judicial salaries
and the salaries of the profession from
which federal judges are recruited.

See Report on page 2

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