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Summer Vacation for the Supreme Court Justices

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. | Last updated on

June is typically the Supreme Court Justices' busiest month. It finds them finishing up their most divided and controversial decisions, holding extra opinion days, and releasing opinions at a much higher pace than the rest of the year. But when it's done, so are they. Unlike the rest of us, the Supreme Court Justices get the summer off.

That doesn't mean they don't keep busy, however. Here's a quick overview of how some of the Justices spend their summer vacation:

Justice Scalia, Jetsetter

Scalia loves to crow about his love of hunting. The Justice, though, is much more of a jetsetter than anything else. Sure, he may get in a hunting trip or three, but it will have to be between flights. The sharp-tongued Justice loves to crisscross the world giving speeches and lectures. In 2014, he took 23 reimbursed trips, more than any other Justice. He shows no signs of slowing down, reportedly being too busy traveling to attend the debut of the Scalia/Ginsburg Opera.

Justice Ginsburg, Art Lover

That opera? Ginsburg was there. Indeed, Ginsburg has long been a fan of the opera. She famously attended the controversial opera "The Death of Klinghoffer" last year, as former NY Mayor Rudy Giuliani protested outside. Ginsburg is a devoted supporter of the arts -- she recently officiated the marriage of Michael Kahn, artistic director of DC's Shakespeare Theater Company -- and will surely continue to step out to the opera, symphony, and theater throughout the summer.

Justice Thomas, R.V. Camper

While Scalia is a jetsetter, Justice Thomas is a simple camper -- an R.V. camper. Every summer, Thomas and his wife travel the country in a 40-foot R.V. motor home. They've covered more than half the U.S. in those trips and Ginny Thomas describes the R.V. lifestyle as "a wonderful life." Their favorite place to spend the night is in a Wal-Mart parking lot. Really.

Justice Kennedy, Internationalist

Like always, Kennedy will spend a good chunk of his summer vacation working -- in Austria. Kennedy has long taught about international law in Salzburg, Austria, at a program started by his mentor, Gordon Schaber. Kennedy has spent more than 25 summers teaching abroad for California's Pacific McGeorge School of Law, where he remains the longest-serving faculty member.

The rest have summer plans too, but we'll have to save those for a later post.

There's Still Work to Be Done

Of course, no one really gets the summer off. Even when they're not deciding cases, the Justices have Supreme Court work to do. First, petitions for cert continue to come in throughout the summer. Those get reviewed by the Justice's clerks who then pass on their recommendations to the Justices -- except for Alito and his clerks. Justice Alito retired from the cert pool in 2008. The Justices, Alito included, are also available throughout the summer to respond to emergency petitions.

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