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Justice Stephen Breyer's salary and career explored amid retirement news

Yasmine Leung January 27, 2022
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer during our interview in his office on August 27 in Washington, DC.
Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Stephen Breyer is set to step down from his post as Supreme Court associate justice after almost three decades, but what is his net worth and how much is the salary for the role?

Appointed by Bill Clinton in 1994, associate justice Breyer is expected to formally announce his retirement on Thursday, 27 January 2022 at the White House.

At 83 years old, the lawyer is the oldest member of the Supreme Court and will continue until the end of the current term and until a replacement has been named, as reported by CNN.

There have been several reports over the years labelling the Supreme Court as a member of the “millionaire’s club”, but how much does an associate justice earn?

  • NEW: Justice Stephen Breyer has three grown-up children with wife Joanna Hare

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Stephen Breyer’s salary revealed

The United States Courts has disclosed federal judges’ salaries since 1968. Figures for the most part have seen annual increases, with the 2022 associate justice salary standing at $274,200 – a $5,900 increase from 2021.

Breyer began the role in 1994 and, assuming the data from the US Courts has been updated, it means he has earned about $6.1 million during his time in office.

Non-profit investigative news organisation Public Integrity claimed his minimum net worth in 2016 was $6.15 million. A 2015 financial disclosure report states Breyer also earned about $117,000 from royalties from his book, The Court And The World.

Aside from book deals, it’s common for members to hold stocks and shares. Breyer’s biggest investments in 2015 were in British publishing company Pearson, which was founded by his mother-in-law’s family, and property in Nevis, West Indies.

Photo by Scott Kowalchyk/CBS via Getty Images

Breyer’s rise through the ranks

After studying at Stanford, Oxford, and Harvard University, Breyer served as a clerk for associate justice Arthur Goldberg from 1964 to 1965, his first year out of law school.

He then served as special assistant to the assistant attorney general in the Department Of Justice’s anti-trust division for two years.

In 1967, Breyer returned to Harvard but as an associate professor. He continued his legal career as an assistant special prosecutor of the Watergate Special Prosecution Force in 1973, before becoming special counsel to the US Senate Judiciary Committee a year later. Breyer was promoted to chief counsel in 1979.

His judicial career began in 1980 after being appointed chief judge for the US Court Of Appeals For The First Circuit by President Jimmy Carter until 1984.

The lawyer officially became an associate justice of the Supreme Court in 1994 to replace Harry Blackmun.

During his electoral campaign, Biden pledged to nominate the first black woman to the nation’s top judicial body. As per the BBC, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the president would honour that promise.

Ketanji Brown Jackson, a former law clerk to Breyer, and Leondra Kruger, who serves on the California Supreme Court, are thought to be contenders for the role.

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Yasmine is a third-year Anthropology and Media student at Goldsmiths University with a new obsession with League of Legends, despite being really bad. She's always on social media keeping on top of the latest news and trends and is HITC’s expert in Korean pop culture. She also loves music, TV and fashion - her favourite things to write about.