Neil Gorsuch caught selling property to head of law firm “involved in at least 22” SCOTUS cases

Gorsuch found a buyer just nine days after his confirmation — but didn't disclose it

By Gabriella Ferrigine

Staff Writer

Published April 25, 2023 1:05PM (EDT)

Neil Gorsuch (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Neil Gorsuch (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch found a buyer for a 40-acre property he had been trying to sell for nearly two years, only nine days after being confirmed for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, according to Politico.

Brian Duffy, the chief executive of top law firm Greenberg Traurig, bought the land co-owned by Gorsuch in Granby, Colorado in 2017. A deed in the county's record system shows that Duffy and his wife closed on the home located on the plot of land for $1.825 million. Given that he had a 20% stake in the property, Gorsuch secured a profit between $250,001 and $500,000 from the sale.

Politico reported that Gorsuch failed to identify the buyer on his federal disclosure forms and, since the purchase, Greenberg Traurig has been involved in at least 22 cases before or presented to the court. Twelve cases in which Gorsuch's opinion was recorded show that he sided with Greenberg Traurig clients eight times and against them four times.

Duffy stated that he does not know Gorsuch personally.

"I've never spoken to him. I've never met him," he told Politico.

Duffy also said that he cleared the property sale with his firm's ethics department upon learning that Gorsuch was a co-owner. 

Though members of SCOTUS are not barred from participating in financial dealings with people involved in court decisions, as Politico noted, "Gorsuch's dealings with Duffy expose the weakness of the court's disclosure procedures."

"For instance," the report added, "in reporting his Colorado income, Gorsuch listed as his source only the name that he and his two co-owners gave themselves, Walden Group, LLC. The report didn't indicate that there had been a real estate sale or a purchaser."

The court's critics linked the sale to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' failure to disclose luxury trips, gifts and a real estate deal involving billionaire GOP megadonor Harlan Crow.

"Well, it looks like the disease of corruption and secrecy at the court is contagious," Take Back the Court Action Fund President Sarah Lipton-Lubet said in a statement. "At this point, it's willfully ignorant to believe that self-interested partisans like Thomas and Gorsuch will ever hold themselves accountable. So it's up to our elected leaders to do it. Congress needs to investigate the rot at the center of this Court before the institution is poisoned beyond the point of return."

"Lord it's so blatant," marveled New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie.

"The Roberts Court. A cesspool of corruption," tweeted Norm Ornstein, an Emeritus scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

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Just last month ProPublica released a bombshell report detailing how Thomas and his wife have for over two decades accepted luxury trips and other gifts from Crow. The trips "appeared nowhere on Thomas' financial disclosures." 

Following ProPublica's revelation, Thomas took another public hit — the conservative justice repeatedly claimed rental income from a real estate firm that has been out of business since the early 2000s, according to a report from The Washington Post. For the past two decades, Thomas reported income that his family received from a firm called Ginger, Ltd., Partnership — a Nebraska real estate firm started by his wife, Ginni, and her family in 1982 — though the company shuttered in 2006, and was ultimately rolled into a new, separate firm called Ginger Holdings, LLC. 

However, since then, Thomas has allegedly continued to claim income — reported as "rent" — from Ginger, Ltd., Partnership, with recent years seeing him report between $50,000 and $100,000 annually, per financial disclosure reports. In sum, he has reported receiving between $270,000 to $750,000 from the firm since 2006.

By Gabriella Ferrigine

Gabriella Ferrigine is a staff writer at Salon. Originally from the Jersey Shore, she moved to New York City in 2016 to attend Columbia University, where she received her B.A. in English and M.A. in American Studies. Formerly a staff writer at NowThis News, she has an M.A. in Magazine Journalism from NYU and was previously a news fellow at Salon.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Brian Duffy Brief Clarence Thomas Greenberg Traurig Harlan Crow Neil Gorusch Politics Supreme Court