Too Busy to Hear Cases : ‘Senior Judge’ Burger in Line for $60,000 Raise
Former Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, who stepped down from the high court in 1986 and hasn’t heard a case since because he’s been “too busy,” stands to receive a $60,000-a-year pay raise because he claimed status as a “senior judge” rather than full retirement.
Burger left the Supreme Court bench in September, 1986, to serve as unpaid chairman of the commission celebrating the bicentennials of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. When he retired in 1986, his salary was $108,400, and had he resigned, his annual salary would have been frozen for life at that figure. But Burger, who has spent much of his career campaigning for higher salaries for judges, opted to accept the title of “senior judge.” As a result, he qualifies for whatever raises are extended to his successors as chief justice.
Under the congressional pay raise bill pending in Congress, a fifth of all senior federal judges, including Burger, stand to collect their largest pay raises in a decade even though they no longer handle any court cases.
Burger declined to answer questions about his impending raise and his judicial workload other than to pass along that, “I’m too busy to sit.”