Justices Make Bank on Books and Stocks

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 30: United States Supreme Court (Front L-R) Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John Roberts, Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice Samuel Alito, Jr., (Back L-R) Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice Elena Kagan and Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh pose for their official portrait at the in the East Conference Room at the Supreme Court building November 30, 2018 in Washington, DC. Earlier this month, Chief Justice Roberts publicly defended the independence and integrity of the federal judiciary against President Trump after he called a judge who had ruled against his administrationâ  s asylum policy â  an Obama judge.â   â  We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,â   Roberts said in a statement. â  What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them. That independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.â   (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
By William Vogeler, Esq. on June 21, 2019 11:00 AM

Books and stocks paid well for justices of the U.S. Supreme Court last year, according to recent financial disclosures.

Justice Neil Gorsuch received a $225,000 advance for a book due out in September. Chief Justice John Roberts cashed in $250,000 in AT&T stock.

Like many people, the justices make money on the side to supplement their annual salaries. The big difference is that they have to disclose it all.

Salaries Plus Benefits

It's not like the justices really need extra money. The chief justice gets paid $267,000 a year, and the associate justices get $255,300. Plus, most of them are wealthy.

The job also comes with benefits, besides job security and lifetime retirement income. Supplemental income, however, is not really a benefit. For some of the justices, it's a side gig.

Writing books seems like a natural for justices because their written opinions could fill books. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer cashed royalty checks totaling almost $37,500.

But that's not all a sitting justice can do. Several made money teaching, with Justice Clarence Thomas making the most: $28,000. Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh was next with $27,765.

Three justices reported income from selling their shares in companies. Roberts, Breyer, and Justice Samuel Alito Jr. together sold about $345,000 in stocks. The ABA Journal said they did it "possibly because of cases reaching the court."

Reimbursed Travel

Ginsburg received the most in reimbursements for travel, largely for speeches and conferences. She took 14 reimbursed trips, including several trips abroad. Sotomayor had 13, and Breyer made 12 reimbursed trips.

All told, the justices disclosed reimbursements for 64 trips last year. We don't, however, know how much the travel cost because they are not required to list the dollar value of the reimbursements under the Ethics Reform Act of 1989.

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