A judicial misconduct complaint against U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, filed over his emotional response to sex assault allegations at his Senate confirmation hearing, now moves to the policy-making arm of the federal judiciary.
New York attorney Jeremy Bates April 26 appealed the dismissal of his initial complaint against Kavanaugh by a panel of judges in the Tenth Circuit to a committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States.
In his latest appeal provided to Bloomberg Law, Bates argues that judges shouldn’t be able to manipulate the complaint process to avoid review.
The Tenth Circuit panel dismissed complaints against Kavanaugh, which mainly stemmed from part of his public testimony some viewed as partisan and disqualifying. The panel concluded that he was beyond the reach of scrutiny under judicial conduct rules since he’d been confirmed to the Supreme Court. He was a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit at the time.
Most “lawyers cannot evade attorney-misconduct proceedings by resigning from state bars. Why should federal judges be able to evade discipline through promotion to the Supreme Court?” the petition asks.
Kavanaugh, in his Sept. 27 testimony relating to allegations that he sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford while the pair were in high school decades ago, called the confirmation process “a calculated and orchestrated political hit.”
“I might have been too emotional at times,” and “I said a few things I should not have said,” Kavanaugh later wrote in an op-ed.
Kavanaugh denies the allegation of sexual assault.
The contentious hearing spurred some 83 complaints alleging, among other things, that he lacked the temperament to sit on the nation’s highest court.
A Tenth Circuit panel found in December that Kavanaugh’s elevation to the Supreme Court took him out of the purview of the judiciary’s misconduct process, which only covers lower court judges. The same panel, this time divided, refused to upset that determination in March.
The disagreement between the panel the second time around revolved around the proper venue to consider the appeal, and not the merits of the underlying dispute.
Any request to review such dismissals would head to the judiciary’s Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts confirmed. That committee is headed by Third Circuit Judge Anthony Scirica.
The full Judicial Conference, which houses the judicial conduct committee and is headed by Chief Justice John Roberts, may review the committee’s determination.
But the rules on judicial misconduct note that all “orders of the Judicial Conference or of the Committee (when the Conference does not exercise its power of review) are final.”
The administrative office outlined the procedural steps involved, but would not confirm whether Bates’ appeal was filed.
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