The Supreme Court Justices As Professors

March 4th, 2012

The Justices of the Supreme Court are not bound by the cannons of ethics–by their own decision–though they have all agreed to the regulations promulgated by the Judicial Conference with respect to “gifts and no outside earned income available to the public.”   Under the terms of this agreement, signed by Chief Justice Rehnquist on January 18, 1991, and agreed to by all current members of the Court, any Justice “who desires to receive compensation for teaching must obtain the prior approval of the Chief Justice. Should the Chief Justice deny approval, the request may be renewed to the Court and granted by it. If the Chief Justice desires to receive compensation for teaching, he must obtain the prior approval of the Court.”

In 2010, six Justices earned income from teaching. Justice Alito was the highest-earner, receiving $15,000 from teaching at the Pennsylvania State University Dickinson School of Law, and $11,955 from teaching at Duke Law School.  Justice Scalia opined his way into second, with the most teaching gigs, as he received $4,000 for teaching at DePaul University, $10,000 for teaching at Loyola Chicago, $8,000 for teaching at UC Hastings, and $2,500 for teaching at the University of Richmond. Justice Kennedy swung his way into third, receiving $26,500 as an Adjunct Professor at the McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific (where he taught prior to his appointment to the Supreme Court). He also received reimbursement for teaching a course and delivering a lecture at Pepperdine School of Law.  Chief Justice Roberts filled fourth place, earning $15,000 as a “Teaching stipend” for a five-day course on the “The U.S. Supreme Court, A Historical Perspective” at the University of Melbourne in Melbourne, Australia on 8/24/10, and $10,000, as a “teaching stipend” for delivering a lecture at Canisius College, Buffallo, New York, on 10/8/2010.  In fifth, Justice Breyer earned $18,405 for teaching at Tulane University. In last place was Justice Thomas who earned $10,000 for teaching at the University of Minnesota School of Law. Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan (who had quite a busy 2010) did not earn any money from teaching.

By contrast, Justice Harlan earned about $4,000 a year to teach an entire class at the Columbian University.