Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch’s sale of a 40-acre tract in Granby, Colo., a property he co-owned via Walden Group LLC, has been a subject of scrutiny and debate for two years. While the sale may appear straightforward at first glance, a detailed examination reveals a complex web of connections, questionable ethics, and an unexplained income source.
Gorsuch’s Financial Interest: The Numbers Behind the Sale
Gorsuch, holding a mere 20% stake, earned a significant sum of $250,001 to $500,000 from the $1.825 million sale. The CEO of Greenberg Traurig, a major law firm with numerous cases before the Court, was the one who acquired the property. Intriguingly, only the LLC was listed as the income source in Gorsuch’s financial disclosure following the sale. These facts alone raise eyebrows and beckon a closer look into the transaction’s details.
Greenberg Traurig: A Connection Riddled with Questions
Greenberg Traurig, the law firm involved, featured in a staggering 22 Court cases, with Gorsuch siding with them in eight opinions. The nature of this connection and the potential influence on Gorsuch’s decisions cast a long shadow over the Supreme Court’s integrity. The case has become a glaring example of the Court’s disparity with other governmental branches in terms of ethics and code of conduct.
Disclosure Limitations: An Ethics Nightmare
The existing disclosure limitations in the Court present a formidable challenge. Currently, the justices themselves decide on reporting income and gifts, allowing for gaps and inconsistencies in financial disclosures. Payne from Campaign Legal Center lamented the insufficient detail in Gorsuch’s financial disclosures, especially in LLC investments and buyer names. He insisted on full compliance with disclosure rules, a sentiment echoed by others who observed the transaction.
Calls for Reform: Senate and Advocacy Groups Weigh In
Durbin, the Senate Judiciary Chair, and a critic of the Court’s ethics rules, emphasized the urgent need for reform and the possibility of Congress’s intervention if the Court remains inert. Herrig from Accountable.US went a step further, proposing an ethics code with transaction vetting and full disclosure, warning that failure to act could irreparably damage conservative justices’ reputation.
The Oil and Gas Connection: A History of Ties
Adding to the intrigue, Gorsuch’s property ownership initially caught the public’s eye due to his co-owners’ links to oil and gas. Tracing back two decades, Gorsuch’s ties to this industry began when he represented billionaire Philip Anschutz. Anschutz’s influence extended to Gorsuch’s real estate partners, both connected to his ventures, adding another layer of complexity to the property sale.
A Troubling Case Demanding Attention
The sale of Justice Neil Gorsuch’s Colorado property is more than a simple real estate transaction. It opens a Pandora’s box of ethical concerns, financial obscurity, and potential conflicts of interest. This case underscores the pressing need for comprehensive reform in the Supreme Court’s ethics and disclosure practices.
The questions raised are not easily dismissed. They linger, casting doubt on the very institution entrusted with upholding justice and the rule of law. It is a situation that demands accountability, transparency, and, above all, action.
Will the Court heed the calls for reform? Will it take the necessary steps to restore public trust? Only time will tell, but the pessimistic tone surrounding this case suggests that the path to resolution may be long and fraught with obstacles.