Ethics Complaints Against Brett Kavanaugh Moved to Colorado Federal Court
Ethics complaints stemming from statements Brett Kavanaugh made during his confirmation process have been passed on to federal judges in Colorado.
Public ethics complaints filed against Brett Kavanaugh arising out of his confirmation will be investigated by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, Colorado and other neighboring states. Kavanaugh was appointed as a justice on the Supreme Court after a controversial nomination process which included him testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee that he did not sexually assault Christine Blasey Ford when they were in high school.
The complaints filed against the new Supreme Court justice stem from statements he made during his confirmation hearings. Exact details of the complaints were not made public. However, D.C. Circuit Judge Karen Henderson acknowledged the complaints last week and said they “seek investigations … of the public statements he has made as a nominee to the Supreme Court.”
The complaints were submitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which is Kavanaugh’s old court. The first three of the 15 total complaints were received on September 20th, a week before Kavanaugh testified before the committee and denied Ford’s allegations.
In the U.S. judicial system, the public is allowed to file complaints against federal judges which are then typically dealt with by experienced judges in the region where the judge serves. The judges receiving the complaints either dismiss the complaints outright, have local judges investigate them or ask Chief Justice Roberts who, as head of the federal judiciary, can assign the complaints to judges in another part of the country.
Chief Justice Roberts moved the complaints to the Denver Court, where Judge Timothy Tymkovitch, chief judge of the 10th Circuit Court, will be in charge of the complaints against Kavanaugh. There is a chance the complaints will never be heard if the lower court rules they have no jurisdiction over a Supreme Court justice.
Ethics experts disagree on whether the ethics complaints have any standing.
Arthur Hellman, an ethics professor at the University of Pittsburgh, told Courthouse News that the court may be forced to determine “that intervening events have rendered the allegations moot or make remedial action impossible.”
Stephen Gillers, an ethicist with the New York University disagreed and said that the complaints aren’t moot “but may be found not to be meritorious in the end.”
The complaints “allege misconduct that occurred while Kavanaugh was on the D.C. Circuit and subject to the Code of Conduct for U.S. Judges. Any violation of the Code does not disappear because he is now on another federal court,” Gillers said in an email to Courthouse News.
Merrick Garland, the chief judge of the D.C. Circuit typically deals with complaints that border on professional ethics with judges, but recused himself from the case. He was a former nominee to the Supreme Court under the Obama administration, but Senate Republicans refused to consider his nomination during an election year.
Judge Timothy Tymkovich who is now handling the ethics complaints against Kavanaugh was on President Trump’s list of possible nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court.