Update below (6/30/20): we spoke to Gorsuch’s fishing rod guy.
Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch did not file their 2019 financial disclosure reports on time like the rest of their Supreme Court colleagues, but Fix the Court’s wait ended today, as the final two disclosures arrived on a thumb drive via UPS next day air as the court was handing down opinions in three of its most closely watched cases of the term.
Alito, one of three stock-owning justices, sold all of his Oracle shares in Jan. 2019, presumably to participate in a petition involving copyright protections for software, and bought no new companies (cf., the word “add’l” should be listed under “Buy” in the Sealed Air Corp entry). He ended last year invested in 28 companies, which is two more than last year, since DowDuPont split into three. Neither Chief Justice John Roberts nor Stephen Breyer, the other two stock-owning justices, bought or sold any individual stocks in 2019.
Gorsuch earned $325,000 in royalties for “A Republic, If You Can Keep It,” which came out last year, on top of his $225,000 advance in 2018 and another $5,000 in 2019 for recording the audio book.
Gorsuch also took 15 reimbursed trips last year, making him the second-most traveled justice behind Sonia Sotomayor, who listed 18 such trips on her 2019 disclosure.
Alito and Gorsuch both made money teaching in 2019: the former earned $15,000 for a course at Duke Law (though the reimbursement for travel to North Carolina and lodging there was mysteriously omitted), and the latter earned $25,000.08 for one at Scalia Law at George Mason University.
A Nice Gift to a “Local Guy”
Gorsuch was the only justice of the nine to list a personal gift on his 2019 disclosure: a $500 fishing rod from a “Bob Todd.” (We know from our open records requests that justices are often showered with presents when they speak in public but that those gifts are almost always under the $390 reporting threshold.)
We tracked down Todd on June 29; he’s the owner of Berthoud, Colo.-based Bennett’s Bait and Tackle, located about half an hour north of where Gorsuch lived when he was judging on the 10th Circuit.
Todd told us Gorsuch was a “local guy” whom he “just wanted to do something nice for.”
“If [Gorsuch] ever got a day off,” he added, “I wanted to be sure he had something to go fishing with.”
We’d Like Some Blanket Recusals on This One
Despite his bounty from the publishing company, Gorsuch did not recuse himself from the petition filed Oct. 25, 2019, in 19-560, Nicassio v. Viacom International, Inc., et al., where the “al.” was Penguin Random House.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who’s earned nearly $2 million from the PRH over the years, did not either.
Only Breyer, who raked in a mere $1,414.58 from the company in 2019, did recuse, but that’s likely due to Breyer’s ownership of up to $250,000 in shares of Pearson, which recently merged with PRH.
All nine justices’ disclosures, 2012-2019, are available at this link.