The Justices' Financial Disclosure Errors and Omissions
Several sitting Supreme Court justices, as well as a few of their predecessors, have made errors, omissions and possible omissions on their annual financial disclosure reports.
Here’s what we’ve found (note: we have all of the current justices’ disclosures except for the years indicated):
Chief Justice Roberts
Roberts mislabeled the value of a mutual fund in his 2011 report: it should have been between $15,000 and $50,000, not between $100,000 and $250,000. He noted the error in his 2012 report.
Roberts misstated a stock sale in his 2012 report: he only sold part of his Lam Research stock, not all of it. He noted the error in his 2013 report.
The one unreported gift that Chief Justice Roberts has received that we have records on — a Betsy Ross flag blanket he got from the University of Minnesota Law School in 2018, for which we have a copy of the receipt — did not reach the gift reporting threshold ($390 that year).
Justice Thomas (missing 1991-1999 FDRs)
Listed a talk at “Culver Stockton College of Law” on his 2000 disclosure. There is, nor does there appear to ever have been, a Culver Stockton College of Law. There’s a Culver-Stockton College, though, about 150 miles northwest of St. Louis along the Mississippi River. It’s also unlikely that a school of this size would have its own private plane, and Thomas listed his transportation to and from the school as via “Private plane.”
Omitted the sources of his wife Ginni’s income for 20 years, including the Heritage Foundation, Hillsdale College in Michigan and Republican leadership in the House. Thomas filed amended reports on Jan. 24, 2011.
Per ProPublica, omitted a real estate transaction he entered into with Harlan Crow on Oct. 15, 2014, where he and his relatives sold three parcels of land, one of which included the house Thomas’ mother is still living in, for $133,363. Though Thomas may have had the mistaken belief that he needed not report the transaction since he lost money on the properties (per CNN, he put in “$50,000 to $70,000” into renovations and in the end received a $44,000 check for the sale), that’s not the case, as any transaction greater than $1,000 need be reported, whether a loss or gain for the filer.
Noted in his 2015 report that a universal life policy from Mutual of New York “was inadvertently omitted in prior reports.”
Omitted a “photo gift” he received from the University of Florida on Jan. 29, 2016. Depending on the quality of the photo, and if it was framed, it’s possible the gift cost more than the $375 gift-reporting threshold for 2016.
Omitted a roundtrip private plane flight from Dulles Airport in Virginia to New Haven, Conn., on Feb. 11, 2016. The flight does not appear to fall into any of the “personal hospitality” loopholes and should have been reported.
Omitted free “transportation, meals, and lodging” from the law schools at Creighton University (2017), University of Georgia (2018) and University of Kansas (2018). Filed amended 2017 in March 2020 and an amended 2018 report in April 2020.
Omitted the sale of three mutual funds from his 2017 report and noted the error in his 2018 report.
Initially misrepresented that he sold a life insurance policy in his 2018 report. He still owns the policy.
Omitted a roundtrip private plane flight from an unknown origin to Dallas on or around Jan. 4, 2018, to swear in a lower court judge. The flight does not appear to fall into any of the “personal hospitality” loopholes and should have been reported.
Has been misstating the name of the real estate holding company that his wife has a stake in; since 2006 Ginger Holdings, LLC, not “Ginger, LTD., Partnership,” as Thomas has written on reports from 2007 through 2021
More information coming on which other free travel accepted by Thomas violated the disclosure laws.
Alito misstated a mutual fund sale in his 2006 report: he only sold part of a Vanguard fund, not all of it. He noted the error in his 2007 report.
Amended his 2010 report to include his opening of an Edward Jones account.
Amended his 2017 report and his 2018 report to clarify that some of his holdings were in a “reportable estate.”
We do not have any records of any unreported gifts Justice Alito has received during his time on SCOTUS.
In her 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 reports, she wrote that “many people sent me gifts of books, art, jewelry and trinkets. I have no reason to believe that any of those items exceeded the [reporting threshold]. If I should learn otherwise, I will amend this form.”
Omitted free “transportation, lodging and meals” from the University of Illinois Law School, Rutgers University, University of Rhode Island, University of Alaska Fairbanks, University of Wisconsin Law School and University of Minnesota Law School, all in 2016. She filed an amended 2016 report in 2021.
Omitted a gift of an “engraving” or something “engraved” that she received from the University of Rhode Island on May 21, 2016, though without knowing what was engraved, it’s impossible to know if it reached the gift reporting threshold.
Misstated the date she became a director at iCivics (was 2015, not 2016, as she had reported); fixed the error in her 2016 report.
Omitted free ticket in the Chancellor’s Box to the University of Wisconsin-Florida Atlantic University football game on Sept. 9, 2017. The stadium has since been renovated so face value of the ticket is difficult to determine, but it could have easily run in the hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, and very likely ran more than the 2017 gift-reporting threshold of $390.
Omitted the gift of Wisconsin football gear she received that weekend. It’s unlikely the gear itself cost more than $390, but if the gift was greater than $156, Kagan should have aggregated with the cost of the football ticket and included it on her report. Also omitted a post-trip gift she apparently received from the law school dean, though it’s unclear what that was.
No omissions or errors have been reported since he joined the Court in 2017.
Gifts that Justice Gorsuch has received — e.g., silver julep cups from the University of Kentucky’s Heyburn Initiative (retail: a huge range, but nice ones can cost less than $100) or a personalized Louisville slugger bat from the University of Louisville (retail: $60-$100) — likely did not reach the gift reporting threshold.
No omissions or errors have been reported since he joined the Court in 2018.
Gifts that Justice Kavanaugh has received — e.g., a personalized Louisville slugger bat from the University of Louisville (p. 3) — likely did not reach the gift reporting threshold.
As a lower court judge, Barrett in 2018 was paid $214.45 over the statutory limit for judicial teaching salary, which was $28,050 at the time. She repaid Notre Dame the overage and noted that in her 2018 report.
Gifts that Justice Barrett has received — e.g., a personalized Louisville slugger bat from the University of Louisville (p. 2) — likely did not reach the gift reporting threshold.
On page 6 of her SCOTUS nominee disclosure, Jackson admits that as a lower court judge she left off trips to Berkeley Law and the Aspen Institute; a teaching gig at George Washington University; four board positions; information on her daughters’ college fund; and “self-employed consulting income that my spouse periodically receives from consulting on medical malpractice cases.”
Justice Breyer reported in 2018, “Shares of Zelfi Sports Holding Ltd. (held by my spouse) were acquired in 2002 and were sold in 2018. Shares of TopGolf International, Inc. (held by my spouse) were acquired in 2006. Both assets were inadvertently omitted from prior financial disclosure reports.”
Justice Ginsburg amended her 2017 report to include the gift of a $4,500 opera costume and amended her 2012 report to include the sale of a mutual fund from 2011 that she had omitted.
Ginsburg filed an addendum to her 1997 report acknowledging she should have recused herself from petitions involving Exxon and General Electric, companies in which her husband held stock, writing, “I was not marked recused in any case in the first half of 1997 because, prior to July, I was not aware that my spouse might be considered to have a financial interest in any public company.”