How Much Does a Supreme Court Judge Make a Year?

US Supreme Court

The steps of the US Supreme Court. | Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

The retirement of Anthony Kennedy and Donald Trump’s recent nomination of Brett Kavanaugh might spark a few questions about Supreme Court justices and their work. One thing you might be curious about is the Supreme Court justice’s salary. Exactly how much does a Supreme Court judge make a year? We have some answers. Here’s what members of the Supreme Court earn.

Fast facts

  • The U.S. Supreme Court has only had four women serve. Retired justice Sandra Day O’Connor was the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court. She was nominated by former President Ronald Reagan and sworn in on September 25, 1981. Her appointment was followed by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was nominated by former President Bill Clinton and sworn in on August 10, 1993. After that was Sonia Sotomayor, nominated by former President Barack Obama and sworn in on August 8, 2009.
  • Elena Kagan is the fourth woman to serve on the Supreme Court so far. She was nominated by former President Barack Obama and sworn in on August 7, 2010. Kagan became the first woman to serve as solicitor general of the United States in 2009.
  • As of 2018, the oldest Supreme Court justice is Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She was born March 15, 1933.
  • Four of the current justices received their degrees from Harvard Law School, three from Yale Law School, and one from Columbia Law School.

The perks of the job

Serving on the Supreme Court comes with a lot of perks. Justices have the opportunity to make money outside their regular jobs. In fact, six, and possibly all, of the Supreme Court justices are millionaires, according to a Center for Public Integrity report.

Analysis of 2016 financial disclosures reveal that Stephen Breyer had a minimum net worth of $6.15 million and a maximum of roughly $16 million. Chief Justice John Roberts had a minimum reportable net worth of more than $5 million and a maximum of close to $11 million. Ruth Bader Ginsburg had an estimated minimum net worth of roughly $4 million.

How Supreme Court Justices make their money

 Although justices make a good living from their jobs, this isn’t the only way they earn money. One way is through writing books. Associate Justice Breyer added to his net worth through becoming a published author. He reported $45,000 in royalties from Penguin Random House, according to the Center for Public Integrity. In 2016, Penguin Random House released the book The Court and the World: American Law and the New Global Realities. That same year, Associate Justice Ginsburg released the book My Own Words, which was published by Simon & Schuster.

Justices also earn money from investments, teaching, and speaking engagements. Financial disclosures showed that Alito, for example, was a visiting faculty member at St. John’s College Law School, Duke University Law School, and Tulane University Law School.

How much a Supreme Court Judge makes a year

Supreme Court justices are paid well for their service. For 2018, associate justices earn an annual salary of $255,300, according to the United States Courts website. The chief justice earns an annual salary of $267,000. Members of the Supreme Court receive an annual pay increase. The year before, associate justices were paid $251,800 and chief justices were paid $263,300.

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