A seat on the Supreme Court is a lifetime appointment, and it also seems to open up a lot of doors into the publishing industry. Many justices have a good sideline writing books of various types, and the Associated Press reports that Justice Amy Coney Barrett earned $425,000 as an advance part of a $2 million deal for her yet-to-be-published book, the most of anyone on the court in 2021.
The figures come from recently disclosed financial reports by the justices, and also include $250,000 in royalties from HarperCollins to Justice Neil Gorsuch, also for a book that hasn't yet been published, $115,000 in book royalties to Justice Sonia Sotomayor (as well as another $5,125 for development rights for her children's book entitled "Don't Ask!"), and $7,800 to retiring Justice Stephen Breyer.
Altogether, Supreme Court justices took home about $800,000 in book royalties and advances over the course of last year, meaning that well over half that total was earned by Justice Barrett herself.
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Six figure publishing advances are nothing to sneeze at, but these kinds of figures are especially impressive compared to the actual Supreme Court salaries, which this year are at $274,200, with Chief Justice John Roberts earning $286,700.
Before Justice Barrett's $2 million advance, the other two biggest publishing advances made to Supreme Court justices were made to Justices Sotomayor and Clarence Thomas – both of whom got more than $1 million each for their personal memoirs. Sotomayor has been a particularly prolific author during her time on the bench, and she's disclosed more than $3 million in advances and royalties over the course of her career. And in 2019, Gorsuch reported $650,000 in earnings from his book "A Republic, If You Can Keep It."
As for Barrett, she is reportedly working on a book on the subject of separating one's personal feelings from one's legal decisions while on the highest court of the land.