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If confirmed by the Senate, Kavanaugh — who is a judge on the appeals court for the District of Columbia Circuit — will be getting a decent pay bump.
He’s currently earning about $220,600 a year. But according to the U.S. Courts website, associate justices each get an annual salary of $255,300. The chief justice, currently John Roberts, earns a bit more, bringing in an annual salary of $267,000.
However, those rates are for 2018, and the amounts tend to go up every year. For example, back when Kennedy was appointed to the Supreme Court by former President Ronald Reagan in 1988, justices made $110,000. If the nomination process for Kennedy’s successor drags on long enough, the new justice could start out with an even higher salary.
Serving on the Supreme Court can be relatively lucrative. As the Center for Public Integrity pointed out last June, most of the justices are millionaires. Their 2016 financial disclosures indicate that Stephen Breyer had a minimum net worth of $6.15 million, while Roberts was likely worth at least $5 million. Ruth Bader Ginsburg came in third with an estimated minimum net worth of about $4 million, followed by Samuel Alito and Sonia Sotomayor.
Where’s all that wealth coming from? Most of the Supreme Court justices don’t just make money from their gigs on nation’s highest court. They rake in cash from book deals — in 2015, Breyer took in about $117,000 in royalties alone. They also profit from teaching gigs — that same year, Clarence Thomas earned over $27,000 for lectures at Creighton University, George Washington University and Brigham Young University.
Not to mention, the justices often travel for free. In 2014, New York University covered trips to Italy for Sotomayor and Ginsburg so they could attend a conference there.
Kennedy will be similarly well provided for in his retirement. Federal judges can retire and collect full yearly pay as long as they’re at least 65, have 15 years of service under their belt and agree to do a little bit of work, according to the U.S. Code. Kennedy is 81 and will have served for three decades when he officially steps down July 31, so he’ll qualify.