A new complaint alleges U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh violated the judicial code of conduct by covering up sexual misconduct and making false statements about it to the Senators weighing his nomination.
The Democratic Coalition, a group whose leaders have worked on election campaigns for President Obama and other Democrats, filed the complaint Sept. 27 with the judicial council of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where Kavanaugh is a sitting judge.
It came the same day Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about her allegations that he sexually assaulted her when they were both in high school.
When asked whether, based on the more than eight-hour long hearing, Kavanaugh was still fit to continue serving on the D.C. Circuit, a committee Democrat who went to the same law school around the same time as Kavanaugh stressed the need for an impartial investigation.
“I think we should promptly move to a nonpartisan investigation of these broad allegations against him so that there is an opportunity for us as a committee to consider them completely,” Sen. Christopher Coons of Delaware told Bloomberg Law.
Coons graduated from Yale Law School in New Haven, Conn., in 1992, two years after Kavanaugh graduated. He also has a degree from Yale Divinity School.
“Today, which was a long and demeaning day, we only had two sworn witnesses in front us, Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh, and there remain, I think, unanswered, unresolved allegations that are serious and should be considered by the committee,” said Coons.
A number of other prior and current graduates of Yale Law, including some who once endorsed Kavanaugh, also have called for further investigation before any votes are held on his nomination to the top court.
Yale is one of the schools where some of Kavanaugh’s alleged misconduct occurred. Deborah Ramirez alleges Kavanaugh exposed himself to her while he was heavily inebriated during their undergraduate freshman year together.
The Code of Conduct for U.S. Judges provides that “a judge should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities.”
The group that filed the judicial complaint argues Kavanaugh violated that provision by perjuring himself in comments made to Congress in the days leading up to the Sept. 27 hearing.
It also asserts he tried to conceal prior acts of sexual misconduct through public statements he made in a Sept. 24 interview on Fox News.
“Judge Kavanaugh’s raw ambition to be a Supreme Court Justice led him to repeatedly lie about his hard drinking and sexual misconduct,” Democratic Coalition chairman Jon Cooper said in a statement emailed to Bloomberg Law. “America’s judges should be beyond reproach.”
A spokeswoman for the White House called the misconduct charges, “ridiculous.”
Kavanaugh has adamently denied all allegations of sexual impropriety and that he drank to excess. Though he acknowledged several times during his Sept. 27 committee hearing that he liked beer.
Investigation, Possible Discipline Sought
The filing amends an earlier complaint related to Kavanaugh’s congressional testimony dating back to the mid-2000s when he was first nominated for a federal judgeship. That testimony included his comments related to an email hacking scandal during his time in the George W. Bush White House.
The complaints ask D.C. Circuit Chief Judge Merrick Garland to call for an investigation of Kavanaugh’s conduct to help determine if discipline, including a request for early retirement, or a referral to Congress about possible impeachment proceedings, might be warranted.
Because of Garland’s own brush with a seat on the Supreme Court, the high-profile nature of the allegations against Kavanaugh, and past practice regarding circuit court judges, it’s likely the complaint will be transferred to another circuit for consideration.
Two weeks ago, the Democratic Coalition also filed a criminal complaint related to Kavanaugh’s prior testimony with the Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section.
Scott Dworkin, Jon Cooper, and J. Whitfield Larrabee filed the complaint. The Democratic Coalition was founded to oppose Donald Trump’s campaign for president.
The case is The Democratic Coalition v. Kavanaugh, Jud. Council D.C. Cir., second complaint filed 9/27/18.