Imagine that the decision whether you could continue to receive a recent $10,000 annual pay raise rested entirely in your own hands. Keeping that pay raise would be a no-brainer. But imagine further that if you decided to retain the raise, you greatly increased the likelihood of being fired from your job within the next several years. Now what would you do? This is essentially the quandary that recently faced six justices on the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in ruling on the constitutionality of legislation to repeal a recently enacted judicial pay raise.

In July of 2005, Pennsylvania’s legislature enacted pay raises for legislators, judges and high-ranking executive branch officials. But the pay raises, literally enacted in the middle of the night without any advance notice to the public, were met with an outcry of disgust from Pennsylvania’s electorate. Only months later, in November 2005, the legislature repealed the pay raises in their entirety.

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