Legislators Deserve Hike in Salary Too
April 23, 2008

To the Editor:

On almost a daily basis a letter or editorial appears in support of pay raises for judges. These repeated calls for action are rejected because Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver refuses to permit the issue to proceed unless his members also receive raises. I believe Mr. Silver is correct.

I believe the Legislature deserves a raise. It is unconscionable that raises are repeatedly held hostage to negotiations and disputes which involve philosophical and/or political issue considerations. Members of the Legislature are entitled to appropriate compensation.

The Legislature is consistently criticized when it even attempts to consider the issue of salary initiatives. These critics apparently believe that providing lower salaries to legislators will somehow induce more competent people to seek public office. This criticism together with the use of raises as a bargaining tool has accomplished nothing more than causing the Legislature to use pay raises for judges, commissioners and other state employees as leverage for their own compensation.

This process is absurd. The members of the legislature should be paid reasonable compensation, unconnected to any issue based legislation and reflective of the current cost of living. And so should judges.

Allan B. Weiss
The author is a Queens Supreme Court justice.

Asian Bar Supports Judge Pay Suit
April 17, 2008

To the Editor:

The Asian American Bar Association of New York, representing the interests of more than 4,000 Asian American attorneys in New York, expresses its support for fair judicial compensation and the litigation that is being waged to bring about that outcome on behalf of 1,300 judges statewide. The Asian American bar association encourages all bar groups and the bar as a whole to support Judge Judith S. Kaye’s recently filed lawsuit, Kaye v. Silver, as well as Larabee v. Spitzer, a parallel litigation in which former Court of Appeals Judge George Bundy Smith serves as one of the counsel.

In the view of the Asian American bar, the plaintiffs in these litigations have demonstrated that the unfair treatment of our judges flouts the principles of separation of powers that are fundamental to our democracy. The vision of our Founding Fathers and the constitutional integrity of our state are based on the concept of co-equal branches of government. Inadequate judicial compensation undermines this balance, demoralizing our judiciary and denigrating its independence. The diminution in the purchasing power of our judges’ salaries, 27 percent since 1999, also runs counter to the New York State Constitution which provides that judicial salaries shall not be diminished during a judge’s term in office.

Reacting to the news of the judges’ lawsuits, Asian American Bar Association President Yang Chen stated, “Our judges waited nearly a decade before filing litigation to vindicate their rights and to uphold the rule of law. The state of limbo under which our judges have had to live is unfair, untenable and unacceptable. All who believe in basic notions of equity and justice should stand behind our judges and support them in their efforts to receive the pay increases that have been unjustly withheld from them for so long.”

The Asian American Bar Association of New York

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