As Noah M. Horwitz already reported a few days ago, Governor Rick Perry tapped Associate Justice Nathan Hecht as his pick for Wallace Jefferson’s replacement as Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court. Hecht will serve until the next election, at which point he intends to run for a full term. Chief Justice Jefferson has indicated that he will not run for another elected office, but will rather seek employment in the private sector.
Jefferson pushed hard during his term for an increase in judges’ salaries, an argument met with a moderate amount of approval with lawmakers increasing judicial salaries by 12% this year. While these salary increases are a great improvement, the low salaries of judges serve as a highly visible indication of how little our society values the vital work our judges perform – much like the pitifully low salaries of teachers. A judge can make significantly more in the private sector, a factor Jefferson himself said influenced his decision to resign.
It is a sad state of affairs to see that we, as a society, generally do not value public servants. Teachers, judges, firemen, police officers and other public servants are frequently forced to choose between taking a lower paying job that makes our society a better, safer place and making a living for themselves in the private sector. Although these individuals still receive some compensation for their invaluable service, it is a shame that they are still underpaid for their service to society.