The Center for Public Integrity recently published financial disclosures filed by all nine justices of the Supreme Court. The disclosures give us a window into how they earn money outside their roles as the most powerful figures in the U.S. judicial branch.
Being among the most accomplished legal minds in the world, it’s no surprise that justices reported income from things like teaching university courses, book royalties and awards. But they also earn from their investment portfolios, which range from normal-person-sized to enormous. The data reported gives us only a range for what they earned, so we can’t be exact — but rest assured, some did quite well for themselves.
From least to most, here’s what the justices earned in 2014.
Former President Ronald Reagan appointee Anthony Kennedy made some extra money teaching classes at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. Unlike most of the justices, however, he had little in investment income in 2014.
Former President George H.W. Bush appointee Clarence Thomas won an award and did some extra teaching and appearances at a number of universities, including Notre Dame, Palm Beach Atlantic University and Vanderbilt University, to earn tens of thousands of dollars on the side.
President Barack Obama appointee Sonia Sotomayor didn’t earn any extra income from employment in 2014, according to her disclosure, and had to scrape by on an associate justice’s base salary of $244,400, plus substantial earnings from her investments.
In addition to earning a higher salary, thanks to his status as chief justice, former President George W. Bush appointee John Roberts found time to do some teaching at the New England School of Law and gets cash through a large and diversified investment portfolio.
Reagan appointee Antonin Scalia has written four books over the past decade, so perhaps it’s not surprising he earned more than $30,000 in book royalties in 2014. He also earned income from teaching at several universities, including Colorado Christian University, the University of Tennessee and the New England School of Law.
In addition to extra income from teaching at the Duke University Law School and winning two awards, George W. Bush appointee Samuel Alito has one of the largest and most diversified portfolios of any justice, earning him a substantial return in 2014.
The oldest justice on the court and subject of a popular Internet meme (Google “Notorious RBG”), Ruth Bader Ginsburg earned a relatively small amount from outside the court in 2014, lecturing at the University of Minnesota. Fortunately for Ginsburg, an appointee of former President Bill Clinton, she also had the second highest-returning investment portfolio of any justice.
Clinton appointee Stephen Breyer made additional income in the form of royalties from the many books he’s authored. But what made him possibly the highest-earning justice were impressive earnings from his personal portfolio.