► Should federal judges be benched when they are 104-years-old? Print E-mail

Should federal judges be benched when they are 104-years-old?

 

 Federal Judge Joseph Woodrough (Woody) served on the appeals court in Nebraska until he died at the ripe, and I mean ripe, old age of 104.
 
Judge Woodrough was born on August 29, 1873 in Cincinnati, Ohio and died on October 2, 1977. He was nominated by President Woodrow Wilson on March 13, 1916 as a district court judge and then nominated by FDR on April 3, 1933 to sit on the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. Therefore, before his untimely death in 1977, Woody spent sixty-one (61) years porking out at the public trough.
 
Woody epitomizes a jurist who is both ethically and intellectually deficient. He could have retired with an annual pension of $25,500 in 1961. However, because of his inherent greed, Woody remained on senior status (working 6 to 10 hours per week) so that he would receive each and every future pay raise, which increased his salary from $25,500 in 1961 to $57,500 in 1977.
 
When Woody turned 103, the American Trial Lawyers Assn in conjunction the AARP (American Association for Retired People) presented him with a birthday present to assist him in performing his judicial duties in the event he needed to revived, a photo which is located to your right.. Now I understand why this partcular piece of equipment is standard in almost every court in the nation.
 
Woody’s judicial salary in 1936 was $12,500; however, he refused to pay any income tax by claiming he was “constitutionally immune” from such taxation. The IRS disagreed and advised Woody that he owed $631.60 on the $12,500 he earned, meaning he was refusing to pay a measly 5% of his wages to support the government paying his wages.
 
In response to the IRS dunning him for $631.60, Woody sued the IRS in federal court by laughingly claiming that Article III of the Constitution, which provides that the “Compensation of Judges shall not be diminished during their continuance in office,” meant that he, was not obligated to pay any income taxes. 
 
Eventually, Woody’s sham lawsuit ended before the US Supreme Court (O’Malley v. Woodrough, 307 U.S. 277.) Justice Frankfurter delivered the unanimous opinion of the Supreme Court by telling Woody to take a hike by saying“To subject [judges] to a general tax is merely to recognize that judges are also citizens, and that their particular function in government does not generate an immunity from sharing with their fellow citizens the material burden of the government whose Constitution and laws they are charged with administering.” 
 
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median income in 1936 for a native white male with a college degree was $2,560. (Joey never attended law school.) The median income for a high-school graduate (working stiff) in 1936 was $1,734. Therefore, Joey earned 5 times what a college graduate earned and 7 times what a blue-collar worker was earning in 1936. 
Despite this wage disparity, Joey had the chutzpah to argue that he was in fact immune from paying any income taxes to support a government that was funding his overly-generous and undeserved salary. 
 
I don’t know about you, but I certainly would balk at having my destiny ruled on by a judge that was 104 years old. I can just imagine the angst of Mrs. Zelda Smith when she appeared with her lawyer, Jim Smith in Woody’s courtroom on September 6, 1977 when he was 104-years-old. I wouldn’t be surprised if the following exchange took place between Zelda and her attorney.
 
Zelda:    Jim, how old is that damn judge. 
Jim:         Well, Zelda I believe he’s 104.
Zelda:     Christ All Mighty Jim! I refuse to allow my destiny to be ruled on by some geezer that’s 104.
Jim:        Well, we can always go down to the 9th floor and have your case heard by Judge Bootle, he’s only 103.
Zelda:     103? 
Jim:        Okay, okay. How about we go to the 8th floor and have Judge Bohanan hear the case, he’s only 101.
Zelda:     No way Jim. What’s available on the first floor?
Jim:        There’s Judge Skelton, and he’s only 99. 
 
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