A recent New York Times article put a spotlight on the book deals made by sitting justices on the U.S. Supreme Court. The focus was largely on how much the judges were being paid for those agreements, with the Times pointing out that five were earning more from book deals than they were serving on the highest court in the land. The biggest single deal is with the newest justice, Ketanji Brown Jackson, who signed to write a memoir with Penguin Random House for what the Times reported was $3 million. Justice Sonia Sotomayor has earned a total of $3.7 million from writing her memoir and children’s books. But how have books written by Supreme Court justices sold? Turns out, the record shows, like any other book category, there are some hits and misses. And none of the books sold close to the numbers racked up by the Obamas, whose titles have sold tens of millions of copies.

Jackson’s memoir and a book by Amy Coney Barrett have not yet been released, and chief justice John Roberts as well as associate justices Brett Kavanaugh, Elena Kagan, and Samuel Alito have not written a published book. Of the current justices, Sotomayor has sold the most copies at outlets that report to Circana BookScan, with her five titles selling approximately 665,000 copies (totals include all print formats and physical audio, where sales are minimal). Her bestseller is her first book, My Beloved World, which has sold nearly 331,000 copies since its release in 2013, followed by the children’s book Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You. There really isn’t a close second to Sotomayor. The second-most popular book by a justice is My Grandfather’s Son by Clarence Thomas, which has sold more than 242,000 copies since it was released in 2007. Neil Gorsuch’s A Republic: If You Can Keep It sold almost 43,000 copies since its release in 2019.

The top-selling book by a recent justice is My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with sales closing in on 510,000. The book benefitted from Ginsburg’s status in pop culture—which included the nickname Notorious R.B.G.—as well as her serving as a role model for many women (Ginsburg, who died in 2020, was the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court).

Stephen Breyer, who retired from the court in 2022, had modest successes with his books. The one he wrote shortly before his retirement, The Authority of the Court and the Perils of Politics, has sold almost 13,000 copies.

Antonin Scalia wrote several books during his tenure on the court, including two academic works released by West Publishing (now owned by Thomson Reuters). The more trade-oriented title was Scalia Speaks, which was edited by his son Christopher and features speeches and other writing by the justice, who died in 2016. Released in 2017 by PRH’s conservative imprint, Forum Books, the book has sold more than 77,000 copies.

The accompanying chart shows that PRH appears to be the favorite publisher for High Court justices. Of the 15 books listed, 11 were published by PRH imprints, and both Jackson’s upcoming Lovely One and Coney Barrett’s untitled memoir will be published by PRH.