Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch recently made a tidy profit from the sale of a 40-acre tract of land he co-owned in rural Granby, Colorado.
Nine days after his confirmation to the Supreme Court, Gorsuch sold the 3,000-square-foot log home to Brian Duffy, the CEO of Greenberg Traurig, one of the nation’s largest law firms.
Duffy and his wife paid $1.825 million for the property, and Gorsuch reported making between $250,001 and $500,000 from the sale.
What’s more, since the sale of the property, Greenberg Traurig has been involved in at least 22 cases before or presented to the court. In the 12 cases where Gorsuch’s opinion is recorded, he sided with Greenberg Traurig's clients eight times and against them four times.
This raises questions about the Supreme Court’s ethics rules and their adequacy in ensuring justices disclose their outside financial interests. While Justice Clarence Thomas is currently under scrutiny for accepting lavish trips from GOP billionaire donor Harlan Crow, Gorsuch did not disclose the identity of the purchaser in his financial disclosure forms.
The Senate Judiciary Chair, Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), released a statement in response to POLITICO’s inquiry about Gorsuch’s sale of the Colorado property.
“We have seen a steady stream of revelations regarding Supreme Court Justices falling short of the ethical standards expected of other federal judges and of public servants,” said Durbin. “The need for Supreme Court ethics reform is clear, and if the Court does not take adequate action, Congress must. The Senate Judiciary Committee will be closely examining these matters in the coming weeks,” said Durbin.
Kedric Payne, director of ethics at the Campaign Legal Center, said he believes “investments in LLCs require more details than the justice includes in his financial disclosures.”
It appears that Gorsuch and Duffy had no prior relationship, and Duffy says he cleared the sale with his firm’s ethics department.
The Supreme Court sets its own ethics rules and has largely left justices to make their own decisions about when and how to report outside gifts and income. It’s clear that more needs to be done to ensure justices are abiding by the law and protecting the integrity of the court.