With controversies surrounding some recent judgments by the US Supreme Court, the justices have come under increased scrutiny. A number of questions are being raised, with supporters and critics in almost equal amounts. One area that specifically interests people is how rich are US Supreme Court justices.
That is tough to answer because federal ethics laws do not require US Supreme Court justices to disclose all of their net worth and assets. Only when there is a conflict of interest, a Supreme Court justice may have to disclose part of their assets. So, the general public can only get a partial view of how rich the US Supreme Court justices are.
Collective wealth of existing US Supreme Court justices is estimated to be around $24 million. But in view of the non-disclosure rules, this number could be as high as $68 million. One can never get a confirmation since federal ethics laws prevent the general public from accessing such information. Such rules have been made in the interest of the nation. Whether of not such laws can be misused is a discussion for another day.
Who is the richest US Supreme Court Justice?
Based on disclosures made, John Roberts is considered as the richest US Supreme Court justice. However, this may not be 100% true. Because, as mentioned earlier, justices have the right to disclose partial income and assets.
In the case of Roberts, the disclosures reveal assets valued in the range of $9 million to $27 million. One of the prime properties is a waterfront cottage located in Maine. It is built on an island and is accessible only via a boat. Annual value is estimated to be in the range of $250,000 to $500,000.
John Roberts’ house in Chevy Chase, Maryland, where he resides, is not part of the disclosure. However, according to a leading real estate company, the property is valued at more than $2.2 million. Other assets owned by Roberts include stocks in companies like Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. and Charter Communications.
The second richest US Supreme Court justice could be Samuel Alito, who has reported assets valued in the range of $2.9 million to $7.4 million. Alito holds stakes in various companies. Due to this, he had to recuse himself multiple times in cases involving companies in which he holds stocks.
One important case was that of pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson, where a group of women had claimed that the company’s talc products had led to ovarian cancer. Justice Alito had to recuse himself from the case.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are Supreme Court justices who have reported very limited wealth. For example, Justice Brett Kavanaugh reported assets of just around $15,000 to $65,000. It could be more, but he has the right to disclose only those items that are mandatory. For example, Kavanaugh’s residence is not part of the disclosure. However, its market value is estimated to be around $1.7 million.
There’s intense debate in terms of whether US Supreme Court justices should reveal all their assets. Supreme Court justices can have earnings from various sources such as rent from property and doing gigs and presentations at educational institutions. They also tend to get huge amounts from book deals. To eliminate doubts and questions from the minds of people, it would be better if justices start disclosing all their income and assets.