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Justices release financial disclosures

The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts released the justices’ annual financial disclosures for 2018 today. The forms do not provide a complete picture of the justices’ finances: They do not, for example, include the value of the justices’ homes, and the values of their stocks, investments and bank accounts are reported only in a range. But at the same time, the forms do offer a glimpse into how the justices spend their time off the bench – as well as potential conflicts of interest.

Most, but not all, of the nine justices have side gigs, often teaching law school. Justice Clarence Thomas taught at three different law schools – Kansas, George Washington University and Georgia – in 2018, earning $28,000. The court’s newest justice, Brett Kavanaugh, earned nearly that much teaching at Harvard Law School, while Justice Samuel Alito earned just over $20,000 teaching at Duke University’s law school and Justice Elena Kagan earned $17,500 teaching a class at Harvard in the fall of 2018.

Justice Stephen Breyer continued to hold the most glamorous outside job, serving as a juror for the Pritzker Architecture Prize. Justice Neil Gorsuch served as a member of the board of trustees for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, while Kavanaugh held three positions even closer to home: coaching girls’ basketball teams.

The justices also earned income from book royalties. Gorsuch led the way with $225,000 from Penguin Random House – presumably for his upcoming book, “A Republic, If You Can Keep It” – and $782.55 from Princeton University Press for his book on euthanasia, which was published in 2009. Justice Sonia Sotomayor earned $33,000 in advances against book royalties for her memoir “My Beloved World,” which was published in 2014, and “Turning Pages,” a children’s picture book published this year. Royalties were a family affair in the Breyer household this year: Breyer earned $4,415.69 in royalties himself, while Joanna Breyer – who has a PhD in psychology – also earned an undisclosed amount of royalties for her own book, a guide for parents of sick children.

Sotomayor also reported receiving (but then donating to charity) $2,000 from the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation as part of the Lifetime Leadership DVF Award. Sotomayor was honored at a ceremony in April 2018 along with (among others) ballerina Misty Copeland and Jaha Dukureh of Gambia, who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for her work to stop female genital mutilation and child marriages.

The justices racked up the frequent-flyer miles again in 2018. Octogenarian Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg went everywhere from Park City, Utah, to Rome, Israel and Jordan, while Breyer hit (among others) Ireland, Spain, Paris, Aspen, Nevis and Sun Valley. Chief Justice John Roberts flew domestic, traveling to speak at law schools in St. Louis and Minnesota.

Some justices had robust stock portfolios. Roberts reported holdings that include Texas Instruments, Sirius XM, AT&T and one-eighth of a cottage in Ireland, while Alito’s stocks include Molson-Coors, Boeing, Caterpillar and Johnson & Johnson. Breyer also owns stocks, including – through his wife – the sports-entertainment brand Topgolf International. Other justices, like Kavanaugh, had simpler finances: He listed only a Bank of America account and a Texas state retirement account.

This post was originally published at Howe on the Court.

Recommended Citation: Amy Howe, Justices release financial disclosures, SCOTUSblog (Jun. 13, 2019, 7:05 PM),