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Which Supreme Court Justice Has the Most Frequent Flier Miles?

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By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on July 14, 2016 12:59 PM

The Supreme Court might be the highest Court in the United States, but that doesn't mean the justices are bound in by our nation's borders, and they're certainly not grounded to D.C. In fact, many of the justices are frequent fliers, jaunting off to Asia to give a speech on the U.S. Constitution, for example, spending their summers in France teaching, or just chilling out at an exclusive Texas ranch with a bunch of berobed businessmen in a secretive order of hunters. (That's the Order of St. Hubertus, who Justice Scalia was traveling with when he died in February.)

Many of those trips are on someone else's dime, meaning that they have to be made public in the justices' annual financial disclosure forms -- and allowing us to peak in on which Supreme Court justice spent the most time taking paid trips last year.

Justice Stephen Breyer, 19 paid trips (including subway fare?)

Justice Breyer released a new book this year, "The Court and the World," and true to the title, he built up plenty of frequent flyer miles promoting it across the globe. Not only did Justice Breyer have the most trips, he had some of the most glamorous ones, speaking in London one week, then participating in a conference with the French Conseil d'état the next. Then it's off to judge the Pritzker Prize in New York, before heading to San Francisco and Boston to hawk his book.

With so much travel, eight of those trips required only one-way fare. For three events, Justice Breyer reported being comped only for "one-way train fair" while in New York, which makes us wonder whether he was hopping on the subway or taking the Acela from D.C. every morning.

Justice Sonya Sotomayor, 13 paid trips

Justice Sotomayor gave Justice Breyer a run for his money, but she her travels didn't have exactly the same glitz and glamour. Most of her trips were centered on education, like her October Q&A at Pomona College in California, or December address to the Latino Law Students Association at NYU Law. She might not have gotten her passport stamped in 2015, but she seems to be the only justice who stopped by both the Bronx and South Bend, Indiana.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 8 paid trips

Justice Ginsburg kicks off our four-way tie for third place traveler. But she comes in first out of the four because so many of her jaunts were international. Justice Ginsburg when to Seoul, South Korea on the South Korean Supreme Court's dime, then to London for a legal exchange program, and finally to Zurich, Switzerland to participate in a "conversational program."

Justice Samuel Alito, 8 paid trips

Justice Alito has a few international destinations on his form, but he is also one of the only justices to report several trips in the South. Justice Alito traveled to Lexington, Kentucky and Durham, North Carolina to teach at the University of Kentucky and Duke, and to Dallas, for a speech to the Federalist Society.

Justice Elena Kagan, 8 paid trips

Justice Kagan just can't stay away from Harvard Law, where she was once dean. Out of her eight paid trips, three were to HLS, for teaching, moot court, and speeches. In fact, Justice Kagan couldn't keep away from law schools at all. Every single one of her trips was to a law school.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, 8 paid trips

Justice Kennedy had plenty of speaking engagements last year, which brought him to Palm Springs, Sun Valley, Utah, Los Angeles, and Cambridge, Massachusetts. But he also went to Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia twice, to attend board meetings and possibly churn some butter.

Justice Clarence Thomas, 4 paid trips

Justice Thomas took a scant four paid trips last year, two for teaching and two for meetings. He spent about a week each at Creighton University School of Law in Omaha and BYU Law in Provo, Utah teaching courses, plus took two short trips to New York and New Haven for meetings with the New York Federal Bar Council and Yale Law School, respectively.

Chief Justice John Roberts, 1 paid trip

Someone needs to invite this guy out more. The Chief Justice took only one paid trip last year, but it seems to have been a cool one. Chief Justice Roberts spent a week last July teaching a course on the U.S. Supreme Court at the University of Tokyo, Japan.

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