April 6, 2016: This story has been corrected.
The federal appellate judges mentioned as possible replacements for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia have generally kept financially conservative profiles, according to a Center for Public Integrity database, but several made hefty salaries at prominent law firms before joining the bench.
As speculation rages about who President Obama might nominate to replace Scalia, the names of federal appellate judges Merrick Garland, Jane Kelly, Patricia Millett, Jacqueline Nguyen, Srikanth Srinivasan and Paul Watford keep popping up.
For the disclosures required of federal judges, five of the six reported relatively modest and uncomplicated financial holdings for 2012 — the most recent year readily available — compared with many of their colleagues sitting on appellate courts, the nation’s second highest level of courts.
All but one of the possible nominees, Garland, steered clear of investments in corporate stock ownership, which have been called a “mousetrap” for judges due to the potential for conflicts of interest with their caseloads. In a broader 2014 investigation, the Center for Public Integrity found 24 examples in which other federal appellate judges owned stock in companies with a case before them, a violation of federal law.