Scores of ethics complaints against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh have been dismissed because they were filed before he assumed his current position in the apex court, a panel of judges has announced.
The complaints — 83 in all — were filed under the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act. They concern statements made by Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearings to the Supreme Court in 2018 as well as the D.C. Circuit in 2004 and 2006.
The complainants, who included “lawyers, doctors, professors and concerned citizens, among others” charged that Kavanaugh made false statements under oath.
However, the act under which the complaints were filed does not apply to Supreme Court justices, the Tenth Circuit Judicial Council said in an order.
“Justice Kavanaugh served as a circuit judge on the D.C. Circuit from May 30, 2006 to Oct. 5, 2018. He was elevated to the Supreme Court of the United States on Oct. 6, 2018,” the council said.
“Because Justice Kavanaugh is no longer a circuit, district, bankruptcy or magistrate judge, a circuit judicial council no longer has the power or jurisdiction under the Act to review his conduct.”
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U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts took no action on the complaints as they piled up at the Washington appeals court while Kavanaugh’s nomination was pending. He then transferred the complaints to various federal judges.
Kavanaugh was confirmed by a tight margin of 50-48 amid accusations that he sexually assaulted California professor Christine Blasey Ford when the two were teenagers in the 1980s.
Activists said the decision proves that laws surrounding judicial misconduct need to be rewritten.
“Today’s decision underscores the need for the Supreme Court to adopt its own code of conduct or for the Congress to write one if the justices cannot be bothered,” said Gabe Roth of Fix the Court.
— With a file from Reuters