How much are Supreme Court justices salaries?

Supreme Court justices earn more in their base salary than Cabinet-level positions in the executive branch

Ariana Baio
Tuesday 19 December 2023 19:55 GMT
Supreme Court Judtice Clarence Thomas criticised for conflict of interest

Like other judicial appointments, Supreme Court justices are given an annual base salary controlled by Congress – it cannot be reduced and is typically adjusted every year for inflation unless Congress passes legislation deliberately increasing it.

The nine members of the highest court in the land are paid more than any other federal judge in the country.

Though justices only work, on average, seven days per month on official business, the workload in preparation for each term requires their attention year-round. They spend months reviewing cases, petitions and drafting opinions.

Associate Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett and Ketanji Brown Jackson made $274,200 in 2023.

Chief justices make slightly more than associate justices. In 2023, Chief Justice John Roberts’ salary was $286,700.

The Supreme Court justice’s base salary is more than the highest-ranked appointed members of the executive branch, including the vice president, as well as Congressional members.

Compared to the average US household salary in 2022, associate justices made 268 per cent more.

However, the base salary does not encompass what the majority of Supreme Court justices can earn in a year.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett speaks with Professor Robert A. Stein at Northrop Auditorium as part of the Stein Lecture Series in Minneapolis, Monday, Oct. 16, 2023 (© 2023 Star Tribune)

Through book deals and teaching gigs, justices can make additional income on top of their $200k+ salary.

In 2022, Justice Sotomayor made approximately $149,494 from book royalties – just a fraction of what she’s earned in royalties from her memoir and children’s books over the years.

Justice Gorsuch has received well over $675,000 from book royalties since 2019. Similarly, Justice Barrett received a $425,000 advance for her forthcoming memoir.

Justices are required by law to not exceed $30,000 of outside pay which applies to teaching and other services tied to their profession. They are not allowed to be paid for speaking events, though their transportation and meals can be.

In 2022, Justice Thomas made $12,000, Justice Gorsuch made $28,891 and Justice Kavanaugh made $29,894 from teaching positions at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University.

Justice Alito made $29,200 from teaching positions at Duke Law School and Regent University School of Law. Justice Barrett made $29,447 from teaching at the University of Notre Dame Law School.

Through speaking events, justices receive reimbursed travel, food and lodging costs in places like Italy, Scotland, Canada and across the US.

The financial disclosure form the justices are required to fill out each year does not mandate members of the court to disclose gifts extended by individuals for non-business purposes. Thus, justices can enjoy luxury vacations or dinners from wealthy individuals without notifying the public.

For this reason, the trips and gifts justices enjoy in their personal lives have come under scrutiny by the public and members of Congress.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in