The Corporate Law Group

Gold Bug Judge

We read with interest an article about a judge that filed a lawsuit in 2008 for a pay raise. You might look askance at what at first looks like another public servant pension grab, but she had an interesting theory. Judge Judith Kaye, former Chief Justice of the New York Court of Appeals [the highest New York court, trial courts being called “supreme courts” (don’t ask)] filed a lawsuit claiming that her pay package had been illegally debased. She pointed out that the dollars in which she was paid used to command 1/35 of an ounce of gold, and now they only command 1/1,300 of an ounce of gold. Since Mad Old King George had made judges dependent on him for their tenure and salary, our Constitution provided in Article 3 that judges were appointed for life and that they were to “receive for their Services a Compensation which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.” If only we were all so protected. So Judge Kaye argued that her salary had been “diminished” through systemic inflation. She was really fighting for 1,300 NY judges and argued that raises had been promised and that promise broken several times over a decade of increasingly meager pay. We’re not sure about arguments advanced by most “gold bugs” but we also think a government controlled fiat currency monopoly can’t be good for us. How did things work out for Judge Kaye? She retired in 2009 and joined a big law firm.

— Paul Marotta

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