Head of a major law firm bought real estate from Gorsuch

WASHINGTON — One month after Neil Gorsuch was appointed to the Supreme Court in April 2017, he and two partners finally sold a vacation property they had been trying to offload for nearly two years. But when he reported the sale the next year, he left blank a field asking the identity of the buyer.

County real estate records in Colorado show that Brian L. Duffy, CEO of Greenberg Traurig, a sprawling law firm that frequently has business before the court, and his wife, Kari Duffy, bought the property.

The buyer’s identity — and Gorsuch’s decision not to disclose it — was reported earlier on Tuesday by Politico. Although experts said that the omission did not violate the law, they added that it underscored the need for ethics reforms given the intensifying scrutiny on financial entanglements at the Supreme Court and renewed calls by Democratic lawmakers for tightened rules.

ProPublica reported this month that Justice Clarence Thomas had not disclosed that he had repeatedly received free travel for lavish vacations and other purposes from Republican megadonor Harlan Crow and that he had sold properties to Crow in Georgia.

Gorsuch did not break the law by omitting the buyer’s identity, said Stephen Gillers, a New York University professor and specialist in legal ethics. Under a 1978 statute governing financial disclosures, federal judges are not required to disclose who bought property from them.

Gabe Roth, executive director of Fix the Court, a nonpartisan group that presses for greater transparency and accountability by the justices, agreed that the omission did not violate the law. But he argued that Congress should pass legislation expanding what justices must disclose, including losses from any sales, the nature of partnerships that hold real estate and who buyers are.

The Supreme Court press office did not respond to a request for comment from Gorsuch.

Greenberg Traurig employs about 2,650 lawyers across 45 locations worldwide and reported over $2 billion in revenue in 2021, according to its website.

A search of the Supreme Court docket on the legal research site Nexis returned more than four dozen cases involving lawyers from the firm from when Gorsuch was appointed to the end of 2022, the latest date in the database. They included cases the court took up, petitions in which it declined to hear an appeal, and friend-of-the-court briefs submitted in cases in which the firm did not represent a litigant.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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