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

By law, judges can earn outside income from a limited number of sources: book advances and royalties, investments, and teaching. The Code of Judicial Conduct specifically encourages teaching. Several judges have boosted their government salaries to under $300,000 by taking classes at schools including Harvard, Duke and Notre Dame.

But Scalia Law quickly moved to the front of the line by offering generous benefits. Judges Gorsuch and Kavanagh each received salaries that approached the statutory limit on some outside income, which in recent years has been around $30,000, for teaching summer courses that typically last about two weeks.

The school also develops bespoke programs for judges in remote locations. Justice Gorsuch travels to Iceland and Italy to teach; Judge Kavanagh taught in Britain. During the first pandemic summer, both judges pressed their classes and taught at state resorts. (Only Justice Thomas regularly holds his classes on campus, and two of his former clerks are associate professors.)

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

Sometimes, judges’ teaching intersects with their positions in court.

Justices Gorsuch, Kavanagh and Thomas routinely used staff in their chambers to coordinate their outside academic duties, despite a judicial advisory opinion — which the justices voluntarily follow — that staff “should not assist in proceedings for which additional compensation is awarded.”

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