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Federal judges win case over back pay

The U.S. Supreme Court today declined to hear a pay dispute between six federal court judges and their employer, the United States.

In U.S. v. Beer, the judges claimed that Congress violated the Compensation Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which was intended to protect judicial pay from the political process, by denying them cost-of-living pay raises in 2007 and 2010, and for four years during the 1990s.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit agreed, and the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the case means that the circuit court of appeals ruling stands and the judges will recover some amount in back pay.

What impact that ruling has on a later class action filed by a group of seven federal judges on behalf of themselves and some 1000 colleagues across the country is unclear, and their counsel, Harry Sussman of Sussman Godfrey in Texas was unavailable for comment– though it would seem to be good news, since the class action complaint is based at least in part upon the Federal Circuit’s decision in Beer.

 

 

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