The Michigan Supreme Court, which has not been without its own scandals as of late, is facing a salary crisis. But one justice wants to end the crisis — now.
Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack issued a letter last Tuesday demanding salaries to be increased ASAP.
Wages for Michigan Supreme Court justices were frozen back in 2002 at $164,610.
This is only a few thousand above the pay level for appeals court judges in the state, although the position carries considerably more clout.
Taking inflation into account, this pay freeze costs the state justices roughly $50,000 per year in income. Meanwhile, other state employees have seen 40% pay raises over the last 17 years.
Even without the pay raise, most Americans would consider $160K a nice chunk of change — but it is all relative for a position that is supposed to be a reward for a brilliant legal career.
The position of Supreme Court justice at either the state or federal level should be the crowning achievement for anyone in the legal profession. Now, however, it seems to be only another stepping stone in a career — at least in Michigan.
The current justices believe this is the case because the wage is unfair when compared to similar positions around the country. Michigan is seventh out of eight in like-state salary comparisons for justices, and 35th out of all state justice salaries.
For that reason, Chief Justice McCormack believes the situation needs to be addressed now to ensure stability on the court.
Additionally, she says, this must be done as a special measure, as any pay raise that is approved now would take about two years to go into effect.
Considering the recent problems Michigan had on its supreme court regarding fraud, it is hard to not to agree with McCormack.
If the state wants continuity and quality justices, it is going to have to pony up — or it will continue to see a revolving door on the most important judicial appointments in the state.