Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett Signs $2 Million Book Deal Raising Ethics Questions
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett has signed a $2 million deal with Sentinel, a branch of Penguin Random House. The $2 million advance is the largest sum paid to a Supreme Court Justice for their memoir. Legal experts call the book deal poorly timed and problematic for a Supreme Court already under heightened scrutiny.
While Barrett’s deal is legal, the massive $2 million advance will likely prove poor optics, as explained by Charles Geyh, a judicial ethics specialist and professor at Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law.
“Judge Barrett may be confident that the book project will not detract from her focus on her judicial duties, and she may well be right. But from the perspective of the average American who is grinding out a living at $40k a year, the optics of a judge — who is paid $250,000 in tax dollars to do the people’s business as a justice — moonlighting for $2 million on a book deal, are problematic,” Geyh told the Seattle Times.
Another legal expert and professor at South Texas College of Law Houston, Josh Blackman, however, highlighted the trouble in having Barrett’s book published by Sentinel, a traditionally conservative publishing branch. “On the one hand, she will be marketing her book to conservative buyers. (Liberals will never forgive her for taking the Ginsburg seat),” Blackman wrote in Reason. “On the other hand, she will be deciding cases that could alienate conservative buyers.”