Liberal SCOTUS Justice Sonia Sotomayor did not recuse herself from numerous copyright infringement cases against Penguin Random House, a book publisher, despite it having paid her millions for her books. Her income from those books dwarfed her SCOTUS pay. Justice Neil Gorsuch, a conservative, also did not recuse himself
The Daily Wire reports that she received a total of $3.1 million from the publisher and houses in it in 2010 and 2012. The payment in 2010, was a $1.2 million advance. Knopf Doubleday Group, a part of the conglomerate, paid it. Then another payment came in 2012, when she received two advance payments totaling $1.9 million from the same publishing house.
Despite having received over $3 million from the publisher, Justice Sotomayor then did not recuse herself in the decision of whether to hear a 2013 case involving the publishing house, That case was Aaron Greenspan v. Random House.
She then received another $500,000, this time from Penguin Random House directly, from 2017 to 2021. During that time, the Supreme Court was petitioned by children’s author Jennie Nicassio. Nicasso was suing Penguin Random House, alleging that it sold a book nearly identical to hers. The Daily Wire report on the matter notes that “On the same day that the petition was distributed to the justices, Sotomayor received a $10,586 check from the publisher.”
Another case involving Penguin Random House came up in February 2020, with SCOTUS denying the “writ of certiorari” for it.
Justice Gorsuch also did not recuse himself from a case involving the publisher, as CNN reported, saying:
Conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch, who joined the court in 2017 and also has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in book deals with the publisher, declined to disqualify himself from the more recent case when it came before the court for consideration.
In contrast to Justice Sotomayor and Justice Gorsuch, Justice Breyer, also to the left, did recuse himself from cases involving Penguin Random House and its subsidiary publishing houses, The Daily Wire reported, saying:
Fellow then-justice Stephen Breyer, by contrast, did recuse from the 2013 and 2020 Penguin cases. His wife is related to the family that founded a company, Pearson, which owned a stake in the publisher, and the couple held stock in Pearson: $1 million to $5 million in 2013, shrinking to $100,000 to $250,000 by 2020. Breyer also wrote books for the publisher, though he earned a much smaller amount than Sotomayor.
Sotomayor’s Penguin Random House money dwarfed the pay that she received from the court and made up all of her reported outside earned income, with the exception of $6,000 in payments from groups — some of which related to her book — and a $5,000 “option fee,” which typically relates to books, according to the disclosures. The publisher also footed the bill for her to speak to various groups. Breyer, by contrast, would typically have those groups foot the bill.
Featured image credit: By Pete Souza – https://www.flickr.com/photos/whitehouse/3567253753/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6900850
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