Justice Sonia Sotomayor appears to have fallen victim to the kind of scrutiny the liberal media usually reserves only for conservatives on the Supreme Court.
The Associated Press revealed Tuesday that Sotomayor's taxpayer-funded court staff have repeatedly pressured public institutions that have hosted the Bronx native to buy her books.
For instance, in 2019, when peddling her children's book "Just Ask!," library and community college officials in Portland, Oregon, desperate to host Sotomayor, reportedly labored to satisfy her various requests, significantly spiking the cost of hosting the Obama nominee in the process. Notwithstanding their logistical gymnastics, they later learned from an aide for the justice that they hadn't bought nearly enough copies of the book.
The aide, Anh Le, reportedly told Multnomah County Library, "For an event with 1,000 people and they have to have a copy of Just Ask to get into line, 250 books is definitely not enough."
Documents obtained by the AP revealed the Portland episode was anything but anomalous.
Before planned appearances at the University of California, Davis law school, at the University of Wisconsin, and at Clemson University in South Carolina, Sotomayor's staff again figuratively twisted arms and filled them with costly and unsolicited signed books.
Michigan State University had to shell out $100,000 just so that copies of the justice's memoir, "My Beloved World," could be peddled to incoming freshmen.
The AP indicated that whereas there is a cap on how much Sotomayor can make on outside yearly pay — extra to her salary of $285,400 — there is no limit on how much she can raise hocking books.
Sotomayor secured a $3.1 million advance on her 2014 memoir alone and has pulled in at least $400,000 since 2019 from sales of her kids' books.
The Wall Street Journal indicated that she is hardly the only one on the Supreme Court swimming in book money, as Justices Neil Gorsuch, Amy Coney Barrett, Ketanji Brown Jackson, and Clarence Thomas have similarly published books or have books on the way. However, according to the AP, the liberal justice is exceptional in at least this: "None of the justices has as forcefully leveraged publicly sponsored travel to boost book sales as has Sotomayor."
The Supreme Court is bereft of a formal code of conduct, meaning Sotomayor's staff can squeeze schools to promote her side-hustle ad nauseam.
Critics have suggested that while not technically an offense, the practice is nevertheless problematic.
Kedri Payne, a former deputy chief counsel at the Office of Congressional Ethics and current general counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, told the AP, "This is one of the most basic tenets of ethics laws that protects taxpayer dollars from misuse. ... The problem at the Supreme Court is there's no one there to say whether this is wrong."
While Sotomayor and her staffers can continue holding her prospective presence ransom for book sales, members of Congress couldn't follow suit, having been prohibited under ethics rules from using government resources for personal gain.
Michael Luttig, formerly a federal judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, suggested the practice could prove compromising, at the very least for the court's reputation.
"I have never believed that Supreme Court justices should write books to supplement their judicial income," said Luttig. "The potential for promotion of the individual justices over the Court at the reputational expense of the Court as an institution, as well as the appearance of such, is unavoidable."
The Supreme Court told the AP in a statement , "Chambers staff assist the Justices in complying with judicial ethics guidance for such visits, including guidance relating to judges’ publications. For example, judicial ethics guidance suggests that a judge may sign copies of his or her work, which may also be available for sale, but there should be no requirement or suggestion that attendees are required to purchase books in order to attend."
However, according to the court, "When [Sotomayor] is invited to participate in a book program, Chambers staff recommends the number of books based on the size of the audience so as not o disappoint attendees who may anticipate books being available at an event, and they will put colleges or universities in touch with the Justice's publisher when asked to do so."
Mike Davis of the Article III Project, a group that opposes attacks on judicial independence, claimed in a statement, "Justice Sotomayor is a good person who appears to have made a mistake by having her staff sell her books, including what appears as pressure on schools and libraries to buy a minimum number of her books before her speaking engagements."
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