The amount of individual stock held in public companies by U.S. Supreme Court justices declined once again in 2017, but three members of the high court’s bench still combine to hold shares in more than 40 entities, according to an analysis of financial disclosures released Thursday by watchdog group Fix the Court.
The financial documents revealed Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer and Samuel Alito to be the only justices to own stock, although the trio did sell off some or all of their holdings in a number of companies. As of the end of 2017, the justices held stock in 44 public companies, down from 49 the year before, and a marked decrease from 60 companies in 2015, Fix the Court said.
Justice Roberts sold up to $50,000 in Hill-Rom Holdings Inc. and up to $15,000 each in Hillenbrand Inc. and Nokia, while Justice Breyer sold up to $100,000 in Cisco Systems Inc. and and Justice Alito unloaded the same amount of C.R. Bard. Justice Breyer also dumped as much as $50,000 in Air Products & Chemical Inc. and $15,000 in Versum Materials, while Justice Alito gave up as much as $15,000 in Schlumberger Ltd.
Fix the Court Executive Director Gabe Roth told Law360 on Friday that much of the divestment came as a result of cases involving the companies arriving on the Supreme Court’s docket. This includes the sale of Justice Alito’s stake in Schlumberger, which he sold following his recusal in the patent infringement case WesternGeco v. ION Geophysical. WesternGeco is a subsidiary of Schlumberger, and the sale allowed Justice Alito to reverse his recusal.
Roth said he believes the sell-offs by the justices are a positive sign while the court continues to have what he calls a “robust business docket.”
“I wish it were a little less protracted, but I think the trend will continue and I’m pleased that it’s moving in that direction,” Roth said.
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