Chief jus­tice sits on ju­di­cial com­plaints about Ka­vanaugh

Houston Chronicle Sunday - - NATION | WORLD - By Carol D. Leonnig, Ann E. Marimow and Tom Ham­burger

WASH­ING­TON — Chief Jus­tice John Roberts has re­ceived more than a dozen ju­di­cial mis­con­duct com­plaints against Supreme Court nom­i­nee Brett Ka­vanaugh in re­cent weeks but has cho­sen for the time be­ing not to re­fer them to a ju­di­cial panel for in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

A judge on the U.S. Court of Ap­peals for the D.C. Cir­cuit — the court on which Ka­vanaugh serves — sent a string of com­plaints to Roberts start­ing three weeks ago, ac­cord­ing to four peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter.

That judge, Karen LeCraft Hen­der­son, had dis­missed other com­plaints against Ka­vanaugh as friv­o­lous, but she con­cluded that some were sub­stan­tive enough that they should not be han­dled by Ka­vanaugh’s fel­low judges in the D.C. Cir­cuit.

In a state­ment Sat­ur­day, Hen­der­son ac­knowl­edged the com­plaints and said they cen­tered on state­ments Ka­vanaugh made dur­ing his Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings.

The com­plaints were handed over as scru­tiny of Ka­vanaugh was in­ten­si­fy­ing amid al­le­ga­tions that he sex­u­ally as­saulted a girl while the two were in high school. Ka­vanaugh has ve­he­mently de­nied the al­le­ga­tions, as well as two other ac­cu­sa­tions of im­proper be­hav­ior.

Roberts’ de­ci­sion not to im­me­di­ately re­fer the cases to an­other ap­peals court has caused some con­cern in the le­gal com­mu­nity. Supreme Court jus­tices are not sub­ject to the mis­con­duct rules gov­ern­ing these claims.

“If Jus­tice Roberts sits on the com­plaints then they will re­side in a kind of pur­ga­tory and will never be ad­ju­di­cated,” said Stephen Gillers, a pro­fes­sor at New York Univer­sity Law School and an ex­pert on Supreme Court ethics. “This is not how the rules an­tic­i­pated the process would work.”

The Se­nate voted to con­firm Ka­vanaugh on Sat­ur­day af­ter­noon.

Kath­leen Ar­burg, a spokes­woman for the Supreme Court, de­clined to com­ment, cit­ing ju­di­cial rules re­quir­ing con­fi­den­tial­ity for mis­con­duct com­plaints.

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