5 revelations from Supreme Court justices’ latest financial disclosures

5 revelations from Supreme Court justices’ latest financial disclosures

The latest financial disclosures of the Supreme Court justices were released Friday, revealing tidbits such as a justice’s new rental property, hundreds of thousands of dollars in book royalties and even gifted concert tickets from Beyoncé.

Eight of the nine sitting justices’ 2023 disclosures were made public, while Justice Samuel Alito received a 90-day extension.

Though the justices have long filed the annual paperwork, recent years’ disclosures have come under greater scrutiny as the justices face increasing criticism for their ethical standards.

Here are five revelations in the latest financial disclosures.

Thomas amends disclosures to include Harlan Crow trips 

Justice Clarence Thomas’s financial disclosure included an amendment to a filing made half a decade ago to include two trips paid for by billionaire Harlan Crow.

The disclosure indicated that the two 2019 trips were “inadvertently omitted” from the paperwork’s “reimbursement” section when the filings for that year were submitted. After receiving guidance from his “accountant and ethics counsel,” Thomas reported the trips.

The first trip, reimbursed by Crow and his wife, Cathy, occurred July 12, 2019, in Bali, Indonesia. Thomas indicated that he was a guest of the couple and was reimbursed for food and lodging at a hotel.

ProPublica first reported on the trip to Indonesia, writing that Thomas and his wife, Ginni, vacationed with the Crows for “nine days of island-hopping in a volcanic archipelago on a superyacht staffed by a coterie of attendants and a private chef.” The cost of the trip would have exceeded $500,000 for the Thomases, according to ProPublica, but the bill was covered by Crow.

Days later, between July 18 and 21, 2019, Thomas was a guest of Crow in Monte Rio, Calif., where food and lodging at a private club were provided. The trip is likely a reference to Bohemian Grove, an exclusive all-male retreat in California, which Thomas and Crow have both reportedly attended.

Last year, Thomas reported trips paid for by Crow for the first time after the trips spilled out into public view. The development also followed new guidance increasing requirements for when the justices must report trips.

Justices reimbursed for 19 trips 

The eight justices detailed 19 trips they received reimbursement for last year, 11 of which were paid for by colleges and universities. Many of the trips were previously known.

Three of the justices taught overseas, the documents indicate, while more than half the court took domestic trips to law schools.

In July, Justice Neil Gorsuch taught at a national security program hosted in Portugal by George Mason University’s law school. Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett both traveled to London to teach at a University of Notre Dame Law School seminar last spring.

Eight of the trips were reimbursed by groups other than colleges.

Those include when Justice Sonia Sotomayor traveled to Los Angeles to present an award named after the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to actor and singer Barbra Streisand.

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson traveled to the 16th Street Baptist Church last September to speak at an event marking the 60th anniversary of a bombing there that killed four Black girls. At the event, Jackson warned that “discomfort” cannot prevent the teaching of Black history.

And Gorsuch reported reimbursement from the Federalist Society for an educational program in London.

Four justices rake in book royalties 

Four justices on the nation’s highest court earned copious amounts of cash on royalties for their books.

Jackson took in the most, earning $893,750 from Penguin Random House for what appears to be an advance for her memoir, which comes out in September.

Kavanaugh reported earning $340,000 in book royalties from the Javelin Group and Regnery Publishing — for a book that’s not yet published.

Axios first reported Thursday that the justice is writing a legal memoir that will span his contentious 2018 confirmation to the 2022 plot to kill him. The book, not yet titled, is slated for release in 2025 or 2026, according to the outlet.

Sotomayor raked in two book royalty payments from Penguin Random House in 2023, totaling more than $86,000. Sotomayor has published five books with Penguin Random House, three of which are children’s books that were also translated into Spanish. Her other two books were also translated by the publishing house’s Spanish language arm.

She also reported receiving $1,879 for a voice performance in “Alma’s Way,” an animated show that aired on PBS Kids.

And Gorsuch reported book royalty income from two publishers: $250,000 from HarperCollins and about $312 from Princeton University Press.

Gorsuch’s book “Over Ruled: The Human Toll of Too Much Law,” written with one of his former clerks, Janie Nitze, is set to be released in August. The justice’s 2009 book “The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia” was released with Princeton’s publishing house.

Beyoncé gifted Jackson concert tickets 

Beyoncé gifted four free concert tickets to Jackson last year, Jackson’s disclosure form shows.

The document does not specify which concert the tickets were for, but Beyoncé was on her “Renaissance World Tour” for much of last year, including a stop just outside Washington, D.C.

The tickets, valued at $3,711.84, were among the notable gifts the justices reported last year.

Jackson also reported $12,500 worth of artwork for her chambers at the Supreme Court Building gifted by two different artists and “HU Scholars.”

Thomas, meanwhile, reported receiving photo albums from Terry and Barbara Giroux worth $2,000.

Terry Giroux is the executive director of the Horatio Alger Association, a nonprofit scholarship organization that includes Thomas as a member. Thomas came under controversy last year after a New York Times investigation detailed how the group gave him access to a select group of wealthy conservative friends.

Sotomayor has a new rental property 

Sotomayor’s disclosure details for the first time a newly converted rental property located near Miami.

The justice had apparently previously owned the residence, but justices only are required to disclose property used as investment. The new form states the property was a “personal residence converted to rental in 2023.”

Sotomayor indicated that Zillow values the property between $100,001 and $250,000, also disclosing it brought in between $5,001 and $15,000 in rental income last year.

The justice also again disclosed she rents out a unit in Manhattan that she still has a mortgage for.

Sotomayor is not the only justice to have rental property, however.

Chief Justice John Roberts again disclosed a one-eighth interest in his family’s cottage in Ireland as well as his ownership of a cottage in Maine.

Alito, who has not yet filed his 2023 disclosure, for years has disclosed a “mineral interest” in Oklahoma that brought in six figures in 2022.

Justice Elena Kagan, meanwhile, rents out a parking space in the nation’s capital, according to the documents.

Updated 1:55 p.m.

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