Taxation, Compensation, and Judicial Independence: Hatter v. United States

Jonathan L. Entin, Case Western University School of Law
Erik M. Jensen, Case Western University School of Law

90 Tax Notes 1541 (2001)


Does the constitutional requirement that the "compensation" of federal judges "not be diminished during their Continuance in office" preclude Congress from subjecting sitting judges to the social security taxes from which they had previously been exempt? In Hatter v. United States, the Federal Circuit ruled for judges claiming such an exemption, and, after the Supreme Court granted cert, the authors wrote the first of these two articles, arguing why, for a multitutde of reasons, the Supreme Court should reverse and make it clear that judges may constitutionally be subject to a tax of general application. After the Supreme Court held for the judges in 2001, the authors wrote the second article, criticizing the Courts decision describing why the Court had gotten the result and analysis wrong, but also explaining why the damage down done was minimal because the issue is unlikely to arise again.