A panel of federal judges dismissed all 83 ethics complaints against Justice Brett Kavanaugh last December, reaching the conclusion that he is no longer subject to the judiciary’s disciplinary process now that he occupies a seat on the Supreme Court.
While Kavanaugh's nomination was pending over the summer and into the fall, dozens of ethics complaints were filed against him, including allegations that he hadn't been truthful when he testified before the Senate during his confirmation hearings, and that his fiery criticism of Democrats and his other detractors at a hearing on the sexual assault and harassment allegations against him in September showed bias and a lack of judicial temperament.
In total, 83 complaints were filed against Kavanaugh. Some were more formal than others. In Tuesday's order, the Judicial Council of the 10th Circuit said it had "greatly liberalized" the standards for accepting complaints, even accepting postcards as long as they identified who had filed the claim.
The complaints were handed to Chief Justice John Roberts, but Roberts chose to pass them off to the 10th Circuit council after receiving them from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, Kavanaugh’s former court.
The judges on the council wrote that the federal law that laid out the process for pursuing ethics complaints against federal judges did not apply to Supreme Court justices.
"The allegations contained in the complaints are serious, but the Judicial Council is obligated to adhere to the [Judicial Conduct and Disability] Act," the 10th Circuit panel wrote.
BuzzFeed noted that the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act specifies circuit judges, district judges, bankruptcy judges, and magistrate judges as those who fall within its scope, but Supreme Court justices are not mentioned.
The 10th Circuit on Tuesday also published an order from Chief Judge Timothy Tymkovich denying a request that he disqualify himself from handling the Kavanaugh complaints. The person who made the request — they aren't named — had claimed Kavanaugh advocated for Tymkovich's nomination to the 10th Circuit in 2003, when Kavanaugh was working in the White House. Tymkovich wrote that the only evidence of Kavanaugh's involvement was an email after Tymkovich was confirmed, suggesting a press release about judicial nominations.
Tymkovich, like Kavanaugh, was on President Donald Trump's shortlist of candidates for the Supreme Court.