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SCOTUS Disclosures: Snoop Through The Justice’s Financial Reports

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Kevin Daley Supreme Court correspondent
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The justices of the Supreme Court collected considerable sums off stock sales and book deals in the 2016, new financial disclosures show.

The reports show that Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer and Samuel Alito both continued to divest of stock holdings, while Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg accrued more than $200,000 on her new book “My Own Words.”

The sales continue a trend of stock divestment, pursued in hopes of avoiding the awkward conflicts of interest that have emerged in recent years.

In one such instance, the chief justice had to recuse himself from a patent case in January after he discovered he owned over 1200 shares in Thermo Fisher Scientific, the parent company of one of the parties in the case. The discovery was made after oral arguments had taken place and the opinion had been assigned. The Clerk of the Court explained that Roberts’ office “inadvertently failed to find this potential conflict,” in a letter to the parties.

Fix the Court, a watchdog group that advocates for greater transparency at the high court, applauded the development.

“I am encouraged by the justices’ continued stock sell-off and call on them to accelerate the practice, especially at a time when public servants’ integrity in Washington is at a premium,” the group’s executive director, Gabe Roth, said.

Among other interesting items include a $3,000 bronze hand given to Justice Alito, and Justice Breyer’s burgeoning real estate empire. The forms show Breyer and his wife sold a plot of land in Massachusetts valued between five hundred thousand and one million dollars. He also owns land in New Hampshire, and rents a property on a Caribbean island.

Many of the justices enjoyed free or significantly discounted travel, disclosing trips to conferences in Spain and China for which they were compensated.

The disclosures are available at this link.

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