Congress illegally withheld cost-of-living salary raises from federal judges in six different years: Federal Circuit ruled

(CN) – Congress illegally withheld cost-of-living salary raises from federal judges in six different years, the the Federal Circuit ruled, overturning 11-year-old precedent.
In 2009, six judges led by Peter Beer filed a class action against the United States for failing to pay certain cost-of-living adjustments in violation of the Ethics Reform Act of 1989 and the compensation clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The act requires automatic adjustment of judicial salaries each year based on the Employment Cost Index. The raise can be withheld only if severe economic conditions make the salary adjustment “inappropriate.”
Congress withheld the salary adjustments for federal judges in 2007 and 2010, citing a lack of funds, but other federal employees received the cost-of-living adjustment.
Judges had challenged these actions before, but the Federal Circuit had upheld the withdrawal of promised cost-of-living adjustments in 2001.
That case, Williams v. United States, concerned unadjusted judicial wages for 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1999. When the court decided it Williams, it relied on the Supreme Court’s 1980 decision in United States v. Will.

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