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September 14, 2006

Chancellor Lauds Judicial Pay Raise Decision

Calling it "the right decision for the right reasons," Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellor Alan M. Feldman lauded the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's Sept. 14 decision reinstating judicial pay raises repealed last year.

"This is an important victory for judicial independence," said Feldman on behalf of the 13,000-member Association. "We are delighted that some of the arguments contained in the Association's amicus curiae brief were relied upon by the Court in its Opinion. Our thanks to Marc Sonnenfeld and Morgan Lewis and Bockius for the fine brief submitted on behalf of the Philadelphia Bar Association."

In a 100-page decision, a five-justice majority of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered the reinstatement of the judicial pay raises repealed last year when voter anger erupted over teh general pay raise engineered by the legislature last summer.

The majority also concluded that Dauphin County activist Gene Stilp had proved that the legislative unvouchered expense allowance provided for in the July 2005 pay raise legislation “represented a mid-term increase in legislative salary which clearly, palpably and plainly violated the [relevant] proscription” found in Pennsylvania’s Constitution.

The majority’s opinion was authored by Justice Ronald D. Castille, who assumed leadership over this spring’s oral arguments in the underlying matters after Chief Justice Ralph J. Cappy, who lobbied in Harrisburg for the pay raises on behalf of the state's judiciary, vowed to recuse himself in those cases.

Read the concurring and dissenting opinion here.

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