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Beyonce, Bali and book deals: US Supreme Court justices admit receiving gifts

US Supreme Court justices reported receiving gifts including a stay in a Bali hotel and tickets to a Beyoncé concert, and nearly $1.6 million in book advances and royalties in annual financial disclosure forms for 2023 released on Friday.
Conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, who has come under criticism for failing to disclose gifts from businessman and Republican donor Harlan Crow, revised his 2019 form to acknowledge he accepted “food and lodging” at a Bali hotel and at a California club.
Liberal Justice Kentaji Brown Jackson said she received four concert tickets from music superstar Beyoncé Knowles-Carter valued at $3,711.84.
And conservative Justice Samuel Alito, under fire for reports over flags associated with Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn his 2020 election defeat, got a 90-day extension on his filing.
The filings showed the justices’ outside income, gifts and investment transactions last year. They are closely watched as the justices have faced increasing scrutiny over ethics following revelations that some of them failed to report luxury trips, including on private jets, and real estate transactions.
Thomas reported no trips in 2023 after disclosing trips to Dallas, Texas and New York’s Adirondack Mountains in 2022. He cited security concerns after a leak of the court’s 2022 decision to overturn the constitutional right to abortion to justify the need to travel privately.
The disclosures showed the lucrative nature of book publishing for members of the nation’s highest judicial body. The advance for Jackson’s memoir “Lovely One,” set for release in September, was reported as $893,750.
In addition to the Beyoncé tickets, Jackson said she received artwork for her chambers worth $12,500.
Conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh listed book “royalty income” from Javelin Group and Regnery Publishing for $340,000. News website Axios reported on Thursday that he is writing a memoir, expected to be published in 2025 or 2026. Conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch reported $250,000 in book royalties, as did liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor for nearly $87,000.
The publishing proceeds supplement the justices’ salaries. This year the eight associate justices will receive $298,500, with Chief Justice John Roberts getting $312,200.
Alito, a member of the court’s 6-3 conservative majority, is embroiled in an ethics controversy after refusing to recuse himself from two pending cases related to the 2020 election and the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol.
Alito said the flags were flown at his homes by his wife and neither of them knew the flags were associated with Trump’s “Stop the Steal” movement.
Under pressure from the drumbeat of criticism over ethical standards, the justices in November adopted their first code of conduct.
Critics and some congressional Democrats have said the ethics code does not go far enough to promote transparency, continuing to leave decisions to recuse from cases to the justices themselves and providing no mechanism of enforcement.
Democrats reiterated the need for legislation last month after Alito rejected their calls for recusal in the 2020 election cases.

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