Supreme Court justices: Well-off, well-traveled

Only two justices reported assets under $1M, while a number of them spent time traveling to far-flung locales.

By Bill Mears, CNN supreme court producer

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Supreme Court justices are generally well off financially and a number of them spent the past year jetting to such exotic locales as Malaysia and South Africa, according to financial disclosure reports released Friday.

The reports confirmed what has been known for some time: Most of the justices are relatively well off financially. At least six of the nine justices report investment income of more than $1 million. Justice Samuel Alito, the newest member of the high court, may be in that group.

Federal judges are not required to publicly release exact income figures, just a general range.

Chief Justice John Roberts may have the most diverse investment portfolio. He recorded 66 different investments and trusts, including stock in Time Warner (Charts, Fortune 500), the parent company of CNN and, Citicorp (Charts, Fortune 500), Hewlett-Packard (Charts, Fortune 500) and Pfizer (Charts, Fortune 500). Their estimated value ranges from about $2.4 million to almost $6 million.

Before becoming a federal judge, Roberts was a high-paid Washington lawyer. His judicial salary is $212,100.

Roberts continued to sell off small amounts of stock, including Blockbuster Video (Charts, Fortune 500) and Disney (Charts, Fortune 500). When he took over as chief justice in 2005, Roberts, 52, was forced to sell stock in several companies.

A bill passed last year in Congress allows federal judges to defer paying capital gains taxes on securities they sell to avoid conflicts of interest. High-level executive branch employees had enjoyed that privilege for years.

Only Justices Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas reported assets under $1 million, not including homes.

Thomas reported between about $150,000 and $500,000 in assets. Apart from his judicial salary, Kennedy reported less than $200,000. The eight associate justices earn an annual salary of $203,000.

The wealthiest justice may be David Souter. A wise investment years ago in a Vermont-based bank has paid off handsomely. His assets in Chittenden Corp. (Charts) are valued in a range from $5 million to $25 million.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's asset totals are boosted by the fact that her husband, Martin, is a well-respected private tax attorney in Washington.

Justices Stephen Breyer, John Paul Stevens and Antonin Scalia were also millionaires. Alito's assets total between $700,000 to $1.8 million.

The financial disclosure reports are released by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

Globe-trotting justices

The annual disclosures also revealed that Breyer, Ginsburg, Kennedy and Scalia were the busiest travelers. Each made multiple visits overseas trips to teach, give speeches or attend judicial seminars. Airfare, lodging, and meals were generally paid for by the organizations that invited the justices, but they must report it, as required by federal law.

Only Justice David Souter reported no such trips. The 67-year-old bachelor also reported no outside teaching gigs, trustee or board memberships, or any gifts received. Souter generally spends his extended time away from the high court at his isolated farm in rural New Hampshire.

Breyer reported 21 out-of-town trips for which he was reimbursed, including ones to England, Netherlands and France. He also visited Aspen, Colo., and Sun Valley, Idaho, popular ski destinations. No word on whether the 68-year-old justice took to the slopes.

Ginsburg went overseas to South Africa and Canada, and made at least eight domestic trips.

Kennedy had probably the most exotic locales on his itinerary, including stops in Malaysia, Guam, Dubai, Austria and England, as well as Hawaii.

But the "Most Traveled Award" goes to Scalia, who made 25 expense-paid trips in the past year, including ones to Switzerland, Israel, Italy and Puerto Rico. Domestic destinations included Milwaukee, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and Chicago, twice.

Even the oldest justice, John Paul Stevens, flew to Las Vegas for a judicial conference. He spends much of his time away from Washington at his second home in Florida. Top of page