Law students who are just entering the educational system may have notions of building a successful practice or working at a prestigious law firm, then spending their later years in the profession as a judge. The judicial system offers a lucrative pay scale that compensates members quite well. Our research into the past and current wages of various levels of judges reveal that most do very well, but the annual salary amounts vary from one state to another for supreme court justices. Federal justices receive the highest pay. If you aspire to become a judge in the highest court of the state or nation, Supreme Court Justices also earn sizable salaries. Here is everything you need to know about compensation scales for professionals in elected positions for the judicial system.
How much does a Supreme Court Justice make?
The annual salary of a Supreme Court Justice depends on whether he or she is a federal supreme court judge or a state supreme court justice. Chief Justices for the supreme court earn a higher salary than associate justices. The National Taxpayers Union Foundation confirms that as of 2021, the Chief Justice of the federal Supreme Court is paid $286,700 annually. Associate Justices for the Supreme Court earn a compensation of $272,200 per year.
Federal Supreme Court Justice salaries go up annually
Research into the past amounts paid to justices of the supreme court reveals that over the past year, salary increases of $6,200 for the Supreme Court Chief Justice and $4,900 for Associate Justices of the Supreme Court were granted. They’ve all received a pay raise to compensate for the cost of living increases. The only higher-paid federal job is the office of the President, with an annual salary of $400,000. The Speaker of the House earns a salary of $223,500, and the Vice President earns $235,100 per year.
The profession has come a long way
The salaries of Federal Supreme Court Justices have followed a respectable history of increases through the past several decades. raises in line with Cost of Living Allowances (COLA) have been commensurate with the norm. In 1968, the average salary for a supreme court justice was $40,000 per year with associate justices earning $39,500 per year. The gap between the levels was not as pronounced in earlier years. Annual Chief Justice salaries didn’t break $100,000 per year until 1982, with associate justices earning a few thousand below that amount.
State Supreme Court Justice salaries
Salaries for State supreme court justices are not as high as the federal judges. Each state has its pay scale in line with the approved budget for judicial officers. Comparably reveals that in the State of Georgia, supreme court justices at the associate level earn a base salary of $137,279 per year. The average salary for a state supreme court justice is $131,765. Georgia’s pay scale is four percent above e the national average as a whole, but when compared to other metropolitan areas such as San Francisco, Boston, or Washington DC, it is 27 percent lower. Supreme court justices in Oregon are paid $154,791.72 per year, compared with Idaho’s annual salary of $160,400.
State Supreme Court Justice salaries vary from state to state
The National Center for State Courts provides an eye-opening look at the differences between the salaries for supreme court justices from one state to another. Supreme court justices are paid higher salaries in California with associate justices earning $261,949 for 2021. This is the highest paying state, followed by $250,442 in Illinois, and $233,400 per year in New York. These are the top three states for earning the highest salary in the judicial system, at the state level. When we compare this to Oregon, Idaho, and Georgia, we see that the pay scale is determined by each state individually and based on the state budget. Associate justices for the West Virginia Supreme Court earn $136,000 per year with those in Puerto Rico paid $120,000, and the Northern Mariana Islands associate justices earn $126,000 per year.
What is required to become a Supreme Court Justice?
The official website of the Supreme Court states that there are no specifications stipulated under the Constitution for qualifications of a US Supreme Court Judge at the federal level. Justices must be trained in the law, but there is no requirement for them to be bar-approved lawyers. Additionally, the federal justices have no restrictions for age, education, native-born citizenship, or profession. In the history of the supreme court, the last appointed justice was James F. Byrnes who did not even graduate from high school. The self-taught attorney was self-taught and passed the bar while in his early twenties. US Supreme Court Justices are appointed by the president but are only allowed to take the seat when confirmed by the Senate. This rule applies to associate justices and the Chief Justice.
State Supreme Court Justices have stiffer requirements
Each state has a different method for electing or appointing supreme court justices at the state level. Most states follow a combination of partisan or nonpartisan elections with governor appointments to fill vacancies occurring at med term. Just as the salaries range for state Supreme Court Justices, so do the minimum requirements to qualify as a candidate for elections. The differences are so vast that one must refer to each state to learn the qualifications. For example, the state of Georgia has the fewest requirements, other than the federal supreme court, but it does stipulate that candidates must be a resident of the state of Georgia for at least five years, and they must have been admitted to practice law for no less than seven years. There are no age requirements listed for the state of Georgia or mandatory retirement ages listed. Qualifications for a supreme court justice in the State of New York are more stringent. Candidates must be admitted to law practice within New York State for a minimum of ten years, and must also be in good standing. The list of qualifications continues. Eligible candidates must also either be a current residents or willing to move to New York City if appointed. The mandatory retirement age for New York Supreme Court Justices is 70 years. The State of Alabama has similar requirements, with the exception that candidates must be state residents for a minimum of one year before running in an election. If a justice turns 70 while serving his or her term, they are allowed to continue until the term expires. Most states require candidates to be at least 18 years of age to qualify for election or appointment. The youngest federal Supreme Court Justice was just 32 years old, appointed in the 1800s. In the State of Texas, you must be a United States citizen, and be a practicing lawyer, and/or judge of a court for a minimum of ten years. You must also fall between the ages of 35 to 74.
Other facts about Supreme Court Justices
Another interesting fact about state Supreme Court Justices is that the number of seats on the panels varies from one state to another. Some states provide for five or six seats, while others have up to nine. The numbers of justices change with the addition of new state Constitutions and amendments to those constitutions. A total of 56 jurisdictions are represented by supreme courts including the fifty states, the five territories of the nation, including Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and Washington District of Columbia.
Other judicial salaries
The salary of judges varies depending on the geographical location and the type of court you preside over. The average salary for general jurisdiction court judges arranges from $64,365 per year on the low end of the spectrum, in American Samoa, to the highest, at $218,600 for court judges in the District of Columbia. the average pay for judges in Illinois is $218,600, with judges in California earning an average of $214,601 per year, $120,000 in the Northern Mariana Islands, and 489,600 in Puerto Rico. In South Carolina, the average judge earns $199,554, with Tennessee judges earning $201,759, Oregon at $129,722, and in Maine, $121,125.
Intermediate Appellate court judges
The pay scale for intermediate appellate court judges is also varied across the board. The average salary in Illinois is $216,297, with Puerto Rico on the opposite end of the pay scale at $105,000. Tennessee judges earn $201,759, New York judges average pay is $222,200 per year, with Kentucky at $136,632, and Mississippi at $144,827. It is also interesting to note that no members of the judicial system received pay cuts in 2021, however, 24 states did not give pay raises due to the impacts of the pandemic. This information applies to general and intermediate appellate courts throughout the United States and its territories.
Other facts about In supreme Court and other types of judicial compensation
Supreme court justices receive an annual base pay for their services, but there is more that goes with the salary, considered compensation. The United States Court’s website explains that these positions also come with locality pay and COLA. Listing them all would be exhaustive as there are multiple pay systems in place, depending on the locale. Most judges working in the United States court systems also receive a compensation package that includes other benefits. There are twelve pay bands within the court personnel system that grant consideration for education level, court level, qualifications, job skills, and length of experience. We learned that there is a tremendous amount of flexibility within the various courts and the way that they establish pays scales for judicial employees. In summary, we can conclude that Supreme court justices at the federal level receive the highest pay of all judges at the state and local court levels. Supreme Court Chief Justices are at the upper end of the pay scale, with federal justices receiving higher pay than state justices. Each state sets the pay scale for the judicial officials it employs. It covers the supreme court and the lower courts. The pay scales are determined per the local economies and the agreed-upon salaries. The amounts are established by the governing forces in each respective state. The annual salaries for state supreme court justices vary vastly from one state to another.
Supreme Court Justices at the federal level are the best paid with the Chief Justice earning the highest amount. Only the President of the United States is paid more with the Speaker of the House and Congressmen coming in at slightly lower pay levels. Each state determines the pay scale for its supreme court justices. The same rule applies to judges over the lower courts systems. The lowest-paid justices are those presiding over the supreme courts in the outlying territories of the United States including Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands. Most states require court justices to have a minimum of five years as a practicing attorney with credentials as an admitted member of the bar. Some states are more stringent than others and may impose specific age limits, and residency within the state for a set number of years. Federal courts are more lenient on the qualifications. Technically, US Supreme Court justices at the federal level are not required to have a law degree. They must have a working knowledge of the law, and at a minimum, be self-taught in the practice of law. In the early days of the supreme court, some justices got admitted without completion of high school and formal education in the law.