As calls grow for the impeachment or resignation of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas over undisclosed gifts from a billionaire Republican megadonor, one of his right-wing colleagues came under fire Tuesday following a report that he sold a property to the head of a law firm subsequently involved in over 20 cases before the court.
Politico's Heidi Przybyla reports that in 2017, Justice Neil Gorsuch and his business partners were seeking a buyer for a 3,000-square-foot home located on 40 acres of land in Granby, Colorado. Nine days after Gorsuch's April 2017 confirmation to the Supreme Court, Brian Duffy, the CEO of the law firm Greenberg Traurig, signed a contract to purchase the property.
Duffy and his wife paid $1.825 million for the home. According to federal disclosure forms, Gorsuch—who held a 20% stake in the property—received between $250,001 and $500,000 from the transaction.
Gorsuch did not disclose that Duffy was the buyer.
"Gorsuch might as well have just gotten a big sack with dollar signs on it."
Since then, Greenberg Traurig has been involved in at least 22 Supreme Court cases. Gorsuch's opinion is recorded in 12 of those cases. He sided with Greenberg Traurig clients in eight of them.
While Duffy called the fact that Gorsuch was about to become a Supreme Court justice "irrelevant to the purchase of that property," ethics advocates blasted his failure to name the buyer.
"It's so blatant," tweetedNew York Times opinion columnist Jamelle Bouie. "Gorsuch might as well have just gotten a big sack with dollar signs on it."
Slate senior writer Mark Joseph Stern wrote on Twitter that "in his disclosures, Gorsuch told us who gifted him a fishing rod, a watercolor painting, and cowboy boots. But the identity of the person who bought his $1.8 million property? Gorsuch kept that one to himself. Wonder why."
Climate campaigner Bill McKibbennoted that Greenberg Traurig "is the law firm that helped Gorsuch gut the Clean Air Act."
"This stinks to high heaven," he tweeted.
Kyle Herrig, president of the watchdog Accountable.US, told Politico that "this is exactly the type of situation that an ethics code that included vetting of transactions and full disclosure would clear up."
"Without decisive action, the conservatives on the Supreme Court will forever tarnish its reputation in our public life," Herrig added.
Mara Dolan, a Massachusetts public defender, quipped, "So Neil Gorsuch is the one Clarence Thomas asked about reporting requirements, huh?"
Thomas has attempted to justify his failure to disclose luxury vacations, private jet travel, and yachting excursions from billionaire GOP donor Harlan Crow by claiming he had followed the advice of "colleagues and others in the judiciary" that he did not need to report the gifts, and by falsely asserting that Crow had no business before the Supreme Court.
Reacting to the Politico report, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) tweeted that "if Republicans cared about the legitimacy of the Supreme Court, they would work with Democrats to pass the ethics bill for Supreme Court justices."
"The corrupt actions engaged in by Justices Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas have stained their reputations and that of the court," he added.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said in a statement that "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."
"The need for Supreme Court ethics reform is clear, and if the court does not take adequate action, Congress must," Durbin added. "The Senate Judiciary Committee will be closely examining these matters in the coming weeks."