Only the Law is Above the Law

By Christal Hayes via USA TODAY:

WASHINGTON – More than 80 ethics complaints filed about Brett Kavanaugh were dismissed Tuesday because his confirmation as a Supreme Court Justice means he’s no longer under the jurisdiction of the court’s disciplinary system.

The 83 complaints varied but generally alleged that Kavanaugh lied during his confirmation hearings to the D.C. Circuit court in 2004 and 2006, more than a decade before he was chosen by President Donald Trump to fill a vacancy on the nation’s highest court, according to a 10-page order from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Colorado.

Some of the complaints also alleged Kavanaugh lied during his tumultuous confirmation hearings this summer to the Supreme Court and made “inappropriate partisan statements that demonstrate bias and a lack of judicial temperament,” the judicial council of the court wrote in the order.

In the end, though, the council of judges concluded they couldn’t discipline Kavanaugh because he is no longer under their authority since he was confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice.

“The complaints must be dismissed because, due to his elevations to the Supreme Court, Justice Kavanaugh is no longer a judge cover by the [Judicial Conduct and Disability Act],” the judges wrote in the order.

The act only covers individuals while they are serving as a circuit, district, bankruptcy or magistrate judge “even if the alleged misconduct occurred during the time the judge was covered under the act,” the judicial council noted, adding that other courts have come to the same conclusion.

Fix The Court, an organization that advocates for judicial transparency, said that this ruling showed that an overhaul was needed for the judicial disciplinary process.

“Today’s decision underscores the need for the Supreme Court to adopt its own code of conduct or for Congress to write one if the justices cannot be bothered, and it demonstrates that the judicial misconduct rubric passed four decades ago – which fails to mention sexual misconduct, has no automatic change of circuit for complaints and forgives justices’ bad behavior in every instance – needs a serious rewrite,” the organization’s executive director, Gabe Roth, said in a statement.

From the start, Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings were filled with protests, disruptions and controversy over records documenting Kavanaugh’s time in George W. Bush’s White House that wasn’t released due to presidential privilege.

But the controversy deepened when a number of sexual misconduct allegations surfaced about Kavanaugh’s conduct when he was in high school and college. Christine Blasey Ford was brought before Congress to testify about her allegations that a drunken Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were at a high school party, an allegation Kavanaugh fiercely denied.

Along with releasing their decision to dismiss the complaints, the court also on Tuesday released redacted copies of the complaints. In general, the complaints allege Kavanaugh lied to Congress during the various confirmation hearings over his tenure, including during his time serving in Bush’s White House.

Some of the complaints took issue with Kavanaugh’s temperament when having to address the sexual assault allegations and face questions from Congress about his past with alcohol. His appearance and comments that the allegations and circus that followed was nothing more than a “calculated political hit” by Democrats riled up the left and led to allegations that Kavanaugh showed a bias against liberals. His comments followed an emotional testimony by Ford, where she detailed her allegations of Kavanaugh’s assault when they were teens.

“He was belligerent, petulant, and refused to answer questions put to him by several senators. He obfuscated and refused to cooperate with their questioning of his behavior in the past,” one person, whose name was redacted, wrote in an October complaint about Kavanaugh. “This lack of reasonable temperament and obvious political bias is unnerving and a terrible blight on the reputation of the court.”

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