Supreme Court Justice Salaries

By on June 30, 2014 in ArticlesHow Much Does

Getting to the bench in any capacity isn't easy, but being named a Supreme Court Judge for the United States of America is especially difficult. You have to have a (nearly) flawless record, an impeccable, fairly high profile career, and catch the eye of none other than the sitting President of the United States. No problem, right?  It's only like running an obstacle course that you have about 0.01 chance of finishing alive.

But once you don that regal black robe of the highest court in the land, you're golden. Why? Because for the past 154 years, the Supreme Court has had a practice in place where all retirees from the federal bench draw their full salary at the time of retirement for the rest of their life. It is one of the few gigs that has the perk of lifetime pay. Not even the President gets to draw his (or someday her) full salary when they leave office.

The lifetime pay thing is part of the Judiciary Act of 1869. The idea is that judges who had reached the age of 70 with 10 years on the federal bench would not feel like they had to keep working if they weren't feeling up to the job. That's the government's way of saying you're old and your mind might not be as sharp as it used to be, so go play golf for the next 20 years, please, and by the way, you will still get paid handsomely. These days, 65-year old judges who have 15 years on the federal bench can also retire with full salary.

But lest you think that retired judges are spending their golden years at Sandals Resorts in the Caribbean, there are certain expectations for continuing to draw a six-figure salary until you're pushing up daisies. The retired Supreme Court Justices are expected to do about three months of an active judge's work each year. As you can see from the figures below, a number of our Supreme Court Justices are WELL over retirement age currently. Still it's a pretty sweet gig, don't you think?

supreme

  1. Chief Justice John Roberts

Federal Judge Since: 2005

Appointed by: George W. Bush

Age: 59

Salary: $255,500

  1. Antonin Scalia

Federal Judge Since: 1986

Appointed by: Ronald Reagan

Age:78

Salary: $244,400

  1. Anthony Kennedy

Federal Judge Since: 1988

Appointed by: Ronald Reagan

Age: 77

Salary: $244,400

  1. Clarence Thomas

Federal Judge Since: 1991

Appointed by: George H.W. Bush

Age: 65

Salary: $244,400

  1. Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Federal Judge Since: 1993

Appointed by: Bill Clinton

Age: 81

Salary: $244,400

  1. Stephen Breyer

Federal Judge Since: 1994

Appointed by: Bill Clinton

Age: 75

Salary: $244,400

  1. Samuel Alito

Federal Judge Since: 2006

Appointed by: George W. Bush

Age: 64

Salary: $244,400

  1. Sonia Sotomayor

Federal Judge Since: 2009

Appointed by: Barack Obama

Age: 59

Salary: $244,400

  1. Elena Kagan

Federal Judge Since: 2010

Appointed by: Barack Obama

Age: 53

Salary: $244,400

Articles Written by Amy Lamare
Amy Lamare is a Los Angeles based writer covering business, technology, entertainment, philanthropy, and pop culture. She spent 8 1/2 years covering the entertainment industry for www.hsx.com. She attended the University of Southern California where she majored in Creative Writing. An avid long distance runner, weekends she can be found running the streets of Los Angeles training for 1/2 and full marathons. Follow her on Facebook.
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