Bloomberg Law
Dec. 18, 2018, 8:27 PMUpdated: Dec. 18, 2018, 10:06 PM

Kavanaugh Complaint Ended by Panel Saying It Can’t Probe Justices (1)

Kimberly Strawbridge Robinson
Kimberly Strawbridge Robinson

Complaints that now-Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh lied during his confirmation hearings were dismissed by a circuit court panel, which found it didn’t have authority to investigate a high court justice.

The Tenth Circuit Judicial Council said it couldn’t investigate the complaints because the statute and rules governing judicial misconduct complaints apply only to lower court judges.

Those who filed the complaints can petition for further review of the Tenth Circuit’s order.

The Second Circuit Judicial Council came to a similar conclusion following numerous allegations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh’s former boss, Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski.

Kozinski resigned shortly after the allegations came to light. Because the rules apply only to sitting judges, there was nothing more the council could do, it said.

The investigation ended 83 complaints filed against Kavanaugh related to his Senate confirmation hearings for both the D.C. Circuit and the Supreme Court. Identifying information of the group or person who filed each complaint was redacted.

A handful of complaints were made prior to the sexual misconduct allegations that emerged during the Supreme Court confirmation process. They alleged Kavanaugh lied to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee about the extent of his work in the Bush White House, including his knowledge of documents stolen by a GOP aide pertaining to judicial nominations.

A majority of the complaints, however, related to his testimony refuting Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while they both were in high school. Those complaints allege that Kavanaugh not only lied to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to cover up his actions, but also that his testimony was inappropriately partisan.

During his Sept 27 testimony, Kavanaugh called the confirmation process a “calculated and orchestrated policital hit” that was “revenge for the Clintons.” Kavanaugh worked with Independent Counsel Ken Starr on President Bill Clinton’s impeachment in the 1990s.

Many of the complaints were originally filed in the D.C. Circuit, where Kavanaugh sat as a judge for more than a decade before being elevated to the Supreme Court.

Given the “exceptional circumstances” surrounding the complaints, the D.C. Circuit requested that Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. transfer the cases to another circuit. He did so on Oct. 10, sending the complaints to the Tenth Circuit, based in Denver.

(Updated with information about complaints)

To contact the reporter on this story: Kimberly Strawbridge Robinson in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at