As I noted yesterday, federal district judges who take senior status work for free. They also do a hell of lot of work.
Consider this analysis:
For the district courts, there were 678 authorized judgeships (including
temporary judgeships) and 651 judges in regular active service in December
2009. The latter accounted for 78.8% of case terminations in 2009, while
judges in senior status accounted for the other 21.2% (including 26.8% of all
trials). It would require 174 district judges in regular active service to do the
case work performed by judges in senior status in that year. Taking vacancies
into account, this translates into 147 additional authorized district court
Stephen B. Burbank, S. Jay Plager, Gregory Ablavasky, Leaving the Bench, 1970-2009: The Choices Federal Judges Make, What Influences Those Choices, and Their Consequence, 161 University of Pennsylvania Law Review 1, 93 (2012).
If Congress continues to starve the federal judiciary of the money it needs to perform its core functions, perhaps a significant symbolic act is in order. At some point, senior district judges, who obviously love the federal judiciary enough to work for free, should consider retiring as a group. Congress would then have to find a lot of money to pay for its intransigence. While the impact on our active judicial colleagues and our staffs would be severe, there may be no other way to truly get the attention of Congress. I am entirely serious about this.