Justice Obscured

Published — June 20, 2014

Supreme court justices earn quarter-million in cash on the side

All but one justice report earnings from teaching gigs, book royalties


Between legalizing gay marriage and sparring over campaign finance limits, the U.S. Supreme Court kept busy — and made money — outside the marbled halls of One First Street last year.

All but one of the nine high court justices earned teaching income or book royalties in 2013, hauling in a quarter of a million dollars for their work shaping young legal minds in the classroom or through the written word.

Top earner Justice Antonin Scalia raked in more than $100,000 in book royalties for his 2012 tome “Reading Law: Interpretation of Legal Texts” and teaching wages from Southern Methodist University, Duke University, Tufts University and Pennsylvania State University, according to new financial disclosure reports released Friday and reviewed by the Center for Public Integrity.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor did not report any outside income in 2013, despite the recent success of her memoir, “My Beloved World,” for which she received $1.9 million in advances from her publisher Knopf Doubleday in 2012. In a footnote, Sotomayor explained that her publisher paid for nearly $27,000 in travel and lodging last year for the justice to promote the book.

Such earnings are in addition to what the jurists earn from their investments and their judicial salaries. Associate Supreme Court justices earn a salary of $244,400 dollars, while the chief justice earns $255,500, according to the Federal Judicial Center. Many of the judges also hold significant investments that have helped turn most of them into millionaires.

Despite Chief Justice John Roberts’ recent support for online disclosure, he and his colleagues’ annual financial reports are not available online. Members of the public must request the documents by snail mail from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, pay for reproduction costs then pick them up either in person or have them sent in the mail.

The Center for Public Integrity has made them available online as PDFs below.

Read more in Money and Democracy

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