It turns out Justice Sotomayor left six free or reimbursed excursions off her 2016 financial disclosure report, which she amendment last year but was only released to the public (i.e., us) today.
In 2020, via public records request, we discovered that Sotomayor’s trip to Rhode Island to give the URI commencement address included a free flight and hotel, which under federal law must be reported in an annual disclosure report. It wasn’t. Today we learned that her 2016 trips to universities in Illinois, New Jersey, Alaska, Wisconsin and Minnesota were also omitted.
Even with all these trips being to public schools and for educational talks, the omissions show the the court must take its disclosure responsibilities more seriously.
Here’s more on the trips:
1. Sotomayor spoke at the University of Illinois and participated in a moot court in Mar. 2016
2. Sotomayor participated in a Q&A with students and had lunch with Rutgers faculty in Apr. 2016
3. Sotomayor delivered the commencement address to the University of Rhode Island in May 2016
4. Sotomayor participated in a Q&A with students at the University of Alaska in Aug. 2016
5. Sotomayor gave a lecture at the University of Wisconsin Law School in Sept. 2016
6. Sotomayor gave the Stein Lecture, as Justices Roberts, Kagan, Scalia and Ginsburg have over the years, at the University of Minnesota Law School in Oct. 2016
In each case, save Rutgers, Sotomayor indicated that she received “Transportation, Lodging and Meals” from the university. At Rutgers it was only “Transportation and Meals.”
Clearly this is nowhere near the most important SCOTUS story of the day, but at the same time, you’re a public figure, there are rules and laws that theoretically apply to you, and the least you can do, given your life tenure and tons of perks, is fill out a very basic form correctly once per year.
FTC also discovered via public records request that Justice Thomas left off free trips from his 2017 and 2018 disclosures. He’s since made corrections in amended reports.