Reports allege that Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor’s staff has been inappropriately pushing public institutions to buy thousands of copies of her books.
Sales from her memoir and children’s books have earned the justice at least $3.7 million since she joined the court in 2009.
Documents obtained by the Associated Press expose the ethical conundrums caused by donors and justices socializing at public institutions, where they are often hosted to speak. The report calls out justices of both liberal and conservative leanings for attending these gray-area events.
In particular, they’ve brought up questions about actions taken by Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s staff.
While the Supreme Court does not have a formal code of ethics, her taxpayer-funded staff’s actions would violate codes of conduct in other branches of government.
According to the documents, the Supreme Court staffers have been “deeply involved in organizing speaking engagements intended to sell books.”
Their actions are prohibited for members of Congress and the executive branch, which is forbidden from using government resources for personal gain.
Lower court officials are also barred from using the “prestige of the judicial office” to advance “private interests”.
Multiple Incidents Involving Sotomayor Staff
The reports uncovered multiple email chains and communications between Justice Sotomayor’s staff and locations hosting her to speak about her books.
In one 2019 example, when the justice toured the country to promote her children’s book, “Just Ask!”, which incurred tens of thousands of dollars in costs for taxpayers, her staff had more pressing concerns.
An aide emailed the library to insist it had not bought enough copies of the book.
“For an event with 1,000 people and they have to have a copy of Just Ask to get into the line, 250 books is definitely not enough,” the aide, Anh Le, wrote to organizers at the Multnomah County Library. “Families purchase multiples and people will be upset if they are unable to get in line because the book required is sold out.”
In another message to the Clemson University, Sotomayor staff noted school officials only purchased 60 signed copies of one of her books. They firmly informed the officials that most schools buy 400 copies.
Michigan State University spent over $100,000 on signed copies of Sotomayor’s memoir, “My Beloved World”, which were shipped to the Supreme Court and signed in her chambers before being shipped to the school.
There are plenty of further examples in the documents. Whether the mainstream media and progressive politicians will demand investigations into her conduct, as they have done for conservative justices, remains to be seen.