Chief justice sits on judicial complaints about Kavanaugh
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.