After multiple women came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court candidate’s confirmation became one of the most divisive issues of 2018. And, as it turns out, Kavanaugh’s behavior during his confirmation hearings led to 83 ethics complaints against him—all of which have been dismissed. NPR reports that yesterday, December 18th, a panel of federal judges belonging to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals voted to dismiss the complaints. The judges concluded that the complaints “are serious” but that lower courts don’t have the power to investigate Supreme Court justices for ethics violations.
According to the 10th Circuit’s court order, penned by Chief Judge Timothy Tymkovich, the 83 charges against Kavanaugh included accusations of lying, showing partisan bias, and mistreating the Senate Judiciary Committee. Some complainants claimed that he lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee about his time working in the George W. Bush administration. Others argued that he exhibited a “lack of judicial temperament” when he defended himself against the sexual assault allegations.
According to CNN, the 10th Circuit’s decision wasn’t a surprise. The only way Supreme Court justices can be removed from the bench is if they are impeached and convicted by Congress, but this has never happened. So basically, even though there are legitimate concerns about Kavanaugh’s appointment, he’ll most likely retain his position.
It’s disheartening—and mystifying—to learn that there’s so little recourse for disciplining Supreme Court justices. Maybe it’s time to rethink that.