If his stock portfolio is any guide, John Roberts could wind up as the most media-savvy justice on the Supreme Court. Roberts, whose confirmation hearings begin next month, has more personal holdings in media and related tech companies—15%-40% of his $3 million in stock investments—than any of the sitting Supremes.
A review of Roberts’ recently filed financial-disclosure statement shows that, while much of his money is in mutual funds, six of the 29 individual stocks he owns are in media. The report doesn’t detail the holdings, listing only broad ranges. But Roberts owns between $100,000 and $250,000 worth of Time Warner, XM Satellite Radio and Microsoft. He holds smaller stakes in Disney, Scientific-Atlanta and Blockbuster Entertainment. That’s hardly enough for Roberts to move markets. But it’s more than his potential court colleagues. The financial reports of the nine current justices are nearly devoid of media stocks. Stephen Breyer owns less than $50,000 worth of Gannett; departing Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has a bit of NBC Universal parent General Electric. Roberts’ appreciation of the media and tech industries might introduce a new comfort level for lawyers who have to argue complex matters like the Grokster case and aren’t sure how well the court’s older members grasp what’s at issue. Then again, Roberts’ very interest in media investing could bar him from hearing important cases. Justices have to recuse themselves from cases involving companies in which they own stock.