The Corner

Judge Argues Before Judge that Judges Should Be Exempt from Paycuts, Judge Agrees

From my old employers at

WE ARE all equal before the law, but in New Jersey, judges are more equal. That bit of Orwellian logic applies to a court ruling on judges’ salaries and paying for increased health care costs. We’re not lawyers, so we will put it plainly: It stinks.

Hudson County Superior Court Judge Paul DePascale filed a suit alleging that the changes in state employee health and pension contributions violated the state constitution’s provision that judges’ compensation could not be changed during their tenure. DePascale believes that paying more for benefits constitutes a reduction in salary.

On Monday, Superior Court Judge Linda Feinberg agreed. Judges are the only state employees whose salaries are protected by the state constitution. We understand why the provision existed. It was created to protect judges from political retribution. But what the Christie administration achieved with regards to pension and health reforms was not about political payback. It was about paycheck reality.

Of course, it’s not even a pay cut as I suggest in the headline. Judges salaries will remain the same, what will change is the size of their share in paying into their pension and benefit programs.

Unsurprisingly, Governor Christie has vowed to offer a constitutional amendment should the ruling be upheld. There’s reason to think he’d have bipartisan support on it.