Sonia Sotomayor Didn’t Recuse Herself From Cases Involving Publisher That Paid Her $3M

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Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor didn’t recuse herself from multiple cases involving a book publisher –  Penguin Random House – which paid her more than $3 million since 2010, according to a report. 

The copyright infringement cases, in which Penguin Random House stood to suffer financial damage if the court ruled unfavorably, were not taken up by the high court but justices voted on whether or not to hear the cases. 

Altogether, Sotomayor earned $3.6 million from Penguin Random House and its subsidiaries for agreeing to let them publish her 2013 memoir, “My Beloved World,” and numerous children’s books since then, the Daily Wire reported on Thursday. 

The same year that her memoir came out, Sotomayor voted on whether the high court should take up Aaron Greenspan v. Random House.

Her liberal colleague at the time, Justice Stephen Breyer, recused himself from the case, having also received money from Penguin Random House. 

The court does not reveal how justices vote in deciding whether to hear arguments in a case. 

Sonia Sotomayor book
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor failed to recuse herself from several cases involving her publisher, according to a report.penguin random house

In 2020, Sotomayor also took part in deciding on a petition filed by fellow children’s author Jennie Nicassio, who argued that Penguin Random House was selling a book nearly identical to one she had already written and published.

On the same day that the petition was delivered to the justices, Penguin Random House cut Sotomayor a check for $10,586, according to the Daily Wire. 

Again, Breyer recused himself from the case that the court declined to take up. 

Sotomayor, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, disclosed the income from her book publisher on her annual disclosure forms. 

The report on Sotomayor’s possible conflict of interest on the bench comes amid an effort by lawmakers on Capitol Hill to force the high court to revamp its code of ethics

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee have vowed to establish a new code of ethics and conduct for the Supreme Court justices if they refuse to come up with one themselves. 

The push for ethics reform comes after several media reports related to conservative Justice Clarence Thomas and his close friendship with Republican megadonor Harlan Crow. 

Last month, Thomas confirmed reports by ProPublica that he had repeatedly accepted travel from Crow over their more than two decades of friendship without disclosing it. 

Thomas contends that he did not have to report the gifts on annual financial disclosure forms. 

Supreme Court justices
The Senate Judiciary Committee is investigating the Supreme Court’s code of ethics.REUTERS

The outlet also reported that Crow purchased property from Thomas and his relatives. 


On Thursday, ProPublica published another report alleging that Crow also paid for the private school tuition of Thomas’ grandnephew. 


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