An eight-member panel of judges once again dismissed the judicial misconduct complaints against U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, but a dissenting opinion may have left open a window for further appeals.
The same panel originally dismissed the complaints in December, saying they no longer had the authority to review Kavanaugh’s conduct because he’d been elevated to the Supreme Court. This latest decision comes after several groups asked the judges to reconsider.
The panel once again confirmed that the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act, the federal law establishing a process for filing judicial misconduct complaints, only covers lower court judges.
While the original order was unanimous, this time two judges—Tenth Circuit Judges Mary Beck Briscoe and Carlos Lucero—did not agree with the decision. They argued that a new panel of judges should review the claims this time around in order to provide a meaningful appeal.
The 83 original complaints related to Kavanaugh’s conduct during Senate confirmation hearings for both the D.C. Circuit and the Supreme Court, including his testimony refuting Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while they both were in high school.
The complaints allege that Kavanaugh lied to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to cover up his actions, and that his testimony was inappropriately partisan. During that testimony, Kavanaugh alleged that Democrats had converted the confirmation process into a “calculated and orchestrated political hit” as “revenge for the Clintons.” He was likely referring to his work in the 1990s with Independent Counsel Ken Starr that served as the basis for President Bill Clinton’s impeachment.
Briscoe’s said in her dissent that the complaining parties “can presumably petition the Judicial Conference Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability for review” of the panel’s order, she said. That committee is made up of federal judges from around the country.
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(Updated with additional reporting throughout)