Sotomayor rakes in side cash by pushing colleges to buy her books for speaking appearances

Sotomayor's staffers pushed schools to order hundreds of advance copies of the books.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor made thousands of dollars pressuring colleges and institutions to buy her books.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor made thousands of dollars pressuring colleges and institutions to buy her books.

According to a report from the Associated Press, Sotomayor and her staff, along with her publisher, pressured colleges and universities to buy copies of her books as a requirement for her public speaking appearances. Documents reviewed by the AP found that Sotomayor has earned $3.7 million from books and speaking appearances since she was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2009. 

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According to emails obtained by the AP, before Sotomayor’s appearance at Clemson University in 2017, school officials and Sotomayor’s staff debated how many copies of her memoir, “My Beloved World,”  the school should purchase for attendees. The officials suggested that 60 books would be too many for the Justice to sign, but her staffers said that “most institutions order in the ranges of 400 and up.” Also in 2017, The State University of New York at Albany bought some 3,700 copies before her appearance.

Then in 2018, Stony Brook University, also in New York, ordered 3,900 copies of the book as part of a reading program for freshman students. Also that year, Michigan State spent more than $100,000 on some 11,000 copies to give to freshmen as part of its annual reading program in conjunction with the East Lansing Public Library. The books were then shipped to the Supreme Court, where she signed the copies, then sent them to the school over time.

While Sotomayor was still in the process of signing books for her Michigan State appearance, the law school at University of California, Davis arranged for her to host its 2018 commencement weekend. The law school ordered 410 copies of her memoir at the behest of Sotomayor’s staff. But Sotomayor injured her shoulder just weeks before the ceremony, and both the book order and her appearance were canceled.

Then in 2019, Sotomayor was booked to appear at a joint event between Portland Community College and the Multnomah County Library to promote her new children’s book, “Just Ask!: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You.” The school promised $1000 for the event, and the library pledged another $1500. But costs rapidly increased from $2500 to nearly $20,000 by the time it was held in September.

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Sotomayor’s assistant reportedly micromanaged the operation, and repeatedly badgered officials about the number of books that were being purchased. The documents indicated that despite handing out 550 free tickets to the public, only 28 books were sold. The assistant then pressed officials to buy more than the 250 copies ordered for the event, noting that attendees needed to buy a book to meet the Justice. She also pressed them to include all of Sotomayor’s works for sale, not just the children’s book. 

Sotomayor’s judicial salary is $285,000, and the Supreme Court restricts outside income to $30,000. But writing books is exempt from that requirement. An anonymous source told the AP that she would not profit from sales of her memoir beyond the $3.1 million advance she received. She has, however, earned at least $400,000– and counting– from sales of her children’s book since 2019.

Campus Reform reached out to the institutions mentioned and the Supreme Court’s Public Information Office for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.