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“Judicial review of laws affecting judicial compensation is not done lightly as these cases implicate a conflict of interest,” the court wrote. “After all, judges should disqualify themselves when their impartiality might reasonably be questioned or when they have a potential financial stake in the outcome of a decision.”
The ethics measure at the heart of the ruling was signed into law by President George Bush, who said it “contains important reforms to federal ethical standards,” including “important adjustments to compensation for all three branches of government.”
For federal judges, the measure both limited their ability to earn outside income and provided pay increases under a formula tied to the Employment Cost Index, a quarterly index of private-sector salaries published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.