NYT: Justices List Their Assets; Wide Range of Wealth
June 7, 2008
Justices List Their Assets; Wide Range of Wealth
By BERNIE BECKER
WASHINGTON Justice Clarence Thomas earned $500,000 in book advances
in 2007, one of three Supreme Court justices to receive book-related
income last year, according to financial disclosures released Friday.
The annual disclosures by the court's nine members also show that at
least two of them significantly decreased their stock holdings, at a
time when several have recused themselves from cases because of the
potential for conflicts of interest. In one case, just last month, the
court failed to reach a quorum of six members, largely because of
justices' stock holdings.
Justice Thomas has now received more than $1 million in advances since
2003 from HarperCollins, which published his autobiography, "My
Grandfather's Son," in October.
But he is still among the least wealthy members of the court, which
could have as many as seven millionaires among the other justices.
Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David H. Souter appear to be the
court's wealthiest members. Justice Ginsburg had assets of at least
$11 million and as much as $50 million at year's end, and Justice
Souter had between a bit more than $6 million and approximately $30
million. (The value of each holding is presented as a broad estimate,
making precise calculation impossible. Home equity is not included.)
The court's two newest members, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and
Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., decreased their stock holdings. Though
justices are not required to rid themselves of stock when they join
the court, they cannot hear cases involving a company in which they
own shares. As a result, Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito had
to sit out cases this term, as did Justice Stephen G. Breyer.
Chief Justice Roberts, whose range of assets was between more than $2
million and more than $6 million, liquidated all his stock in four
companies. Justice Alito sold all his stock in one company and
lessened his holdings in three others. His net worth was between more
than $500,000 and under $2 million.
The disclosures do not say whether the justices shed these holdings in
order to hear cases either since heard or still pending, though
Justice Roberts's sale of Citigroup and Cisco Systems stock allowed
him to hear cases involving those two companies. It is also unclear
whether they were influenced by a law, enacted in 2006, that lets
justices defer the payment of capital gains taxes on stock sales by
reinvesting the profits in mutual funds or government securities.
Justice Breyer, who also has a diverse stock portfolio, sold stock in
three companies. His wealth, which includes book royalties, is between
some $5 million and $17 million.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy saw some increase in his assets in 2007 but
remains among the least wealthy justices. He reported assets of
between roughly $350,000 and $750,000.
Justice Antonin Scalia reported assets of some $1.5 million to $3
million. Justice Scalia, who last year received a much smaller book
advance than Justice Thomas, led the court with 33 expense-paid trips,
including journeys to six foreign capitals.
Justice John Paul Stevens, the court's longest-serving member, had
assets of approximately $2 million to $7 million.
Chief Justice Roberts was paid $212,100 last year, while associate
justices made $203,000. All received raises of more than $5,000 this year.