When they want to leave the bench full-time, most federal judges, who are appointed for life, have two options - they can resign altogether or they can take senior status, making themselves available for whatever duty they want to accept. But a study by The Associated Press shows that some judges who take senior status - and the active-duty salary that goes with it - choose to accept no work, only their paychecks. That system should be changed.
If the title of senior status were merely ceremonial, that difference might not matter. But salaries of federal judges who resign altogether stay frozen at the same level as when they leave the bench; judges on senior status receive the same pay raises as those who are active on a daily basis.Judges who are helping reduce the caseload on the federal bench deserve that raise; but judges who take senior status without accepting any work should earn no more than those judges who leave the bench altogether. Congress should establish a minimum workload for judges on senior status, so the title has some meaning and taxpayers get their money's worth.