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How Scalia Law School Became a Key Friend of the Supreme Court

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By law, justices may earn outside income from a limited number of sources: book advances and royalties, investments, and teaching. The judicial code of conduct specifically encourages teaching. Many justices have augmented their government salaries, which now hover beneath $300,000, by holding classes at schools including Harvard, Duke and Notre Dame.

But Scalia Law quickly moved to the front of the line, in part by offering generous benefits. For teaching summer courses that generally ran for up to two weeks, Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh each made salaries that approached the legal cap on certain outside income, roughly $30,000 in recent years.

The school also creates bespoke programs for the justices in far-flung locations. Justice Gorsuch has traveled to Iceland and Italy to teach; Justice Kavanaugh has taught in Britain. During the first pandemic summer, both justices pressed on with their classes, teaching at stateside resorts. (Only Justice Thomas has routinely held his classes on campus, with two of his former clerks as co-professors.)

“When a justice is with us, we do everything we can to engage the justice with our students,” the law school’s dean, Ken Randall, said in a statement. He added, “Law schools serve students, and their education is undoubtedly enhanced by the justices teaching or visiting or speaking with students.”

At times, the justices’ teaching has intersected with their positions on the court.

Justices Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Thomas regularly used employees in their chambers to coordinate their outside academic duties, despite a judicial advisory opinion — which the justices say they voluntarily follow — that staff members should not help “in performing activities for which extra compensation is to be received.”

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