Six of the court’s nine members received paid trips to Europe in 2014, including to Berlin, London and Zurich, as reported on the justices’ annual financial disclosure reports released Thursday. The excursions are just some of the many perks that come with having the final word on the nation’s laws.
The reports — which detail the stock holdings, travel, spousal income, gifts and debts of the nine Supreme Court justices — show the many ways that the judges can pad their finances beyond their judicial salary. Associate Supreme Court justices earn a salary of $244,400, while the chief justice earns $255,500, according to the Federal Judicial Center. The judges hold significant investments that have helped turn most of them into millionaires.
The justices do not have to disclose the costs of their reimbursed travels, which included a three-week multi-stop trip that Justice Anthony Kennedy took to Salzburg, Austria, San Francisco and Aspen, Colorado, last July, paid for by the Aspen Institute and the University of the Pacific. New York University also paid for Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg to travel to Florence, Italy. Chief Justice John Roberts taught a class on the history of the Supreme Court to students of the New England School of Law in London.
All of the justices received at least some free travel, even if not international.
Teaching and giving one-off lectures was a common side venture for the justices, seven of whom reported income from universities. Kennedy was an adjunct professor at the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law, Justice Samuel Alito taught at Duke University Law School and Justice Elena Kagan was a visiting professor at Harvard Law School.
Justices Antonin Scalia and Stephen Breyer both reported income from book royalties, though Scalia’s books seem to be selling far better, earning more than $33,000 in 2014, compared with the $7,000 Breyer reported. However, Scalia’s books did not sell as well as they did the year before, when he reported nearly $77,000 in royalties.
Besides their side gigs as teachers and book authors, six of the nine justices were also landlords. For example, Scalia’s property in Charlottesville, Virginia, netted him at least $5,000 a year in rent, while Breyer’s property on the island of Nevis in the West Indies earned less than $1,000 a year in rent. Justice Clarence Thomas reported owning one third of a rental property in Georgia but said he received no rent in 2014.