Bench Memos

More on Judicial Pensions, Senior Judges, and Retirement

Professor David R. Stras of the University of Minnesota Law School, an expert on the topic of judicial pensions, has confirmed my understanding that senior judges are eligible (contingent on appropriate certification) to receive the benefits of subsequent salary increases for their positions. I should not, however, have lumped fully retired judges together with senior judges on this point: as 28 USC 371(a) makes plain, a judge who fully retires shall “receive an annuity equal to the salary he was receiving at the time he was retired.”

Professor Stras has written a number of interesting articles in the area. In this paper, he and his co-author Ryan W. Scott argue that pensions have been the most important factor in influencing the retirement timing of Supreme Court justices, and they propose that Congress encourage appropriate retirements by creating a golden parachute for Supreme Court justices. This paper explores an incentives approach to judicial retirement generally. And this paper examines whether senior judges are unconstitutional.


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