Chief Justice John Roberts on Wednesday sent a letter referring around a dozen ethics complaints that have been filed against Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the 10th Circuit for review.
In his letter Chief Justice Roberts explains that on September 20th, he received “a request from the Judicial Council of the District of Columbia Circuit, under Rule 26 of the Rules for Judicial-Conduct and Judicial-Disability Proceedings, to transfer judicial conduct proceedings captioned In re: Judicial Misconduct Complaint, Nos. 18-90029, 18-90034, and 18-90044, to the judicial council of another federal judicial circuit,” followed by other requests dated between September 26th and October 5th.
In response to the requests for transfer Chief Justice Roberts writes, “I have selected the Judicial Council of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit to accept the transfer and to exercise the powers of a judicial council with respect to the identified complaints and any pending or new complaints relating to the same subject matter.”
The letter does not name Justice Kavanaugh, however, the Washington Post reports, “Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson of the D.C. Circuit,” was the original judge that requested the transfer of the complaints. Judge Henderson issued a press release on Saturday that explains the complaints against Justice Kavanaugh “do not pertain to any conduct in which Judge Kavanaugh engaged as a judge. The complaints seek investigations only of the public statements he has made as a nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States.” Judge Henderson took over the complaints when Judge Merrick Garland recused himself from the matter. Judge Henderson is a Bush appointee.
It is unclear if anything will come of the investigation according to a law professor from the University of Pittsburgh who the Washington Post calls an “expert on the operation of federal courts,” Arthur D. Hellman states, “there is nothing that a judicial council could do at this point,” he told the Post, he believes the 10th Circuit will likely close the case, “because it is no longer within their jurisdiction.”
Courthouse News notes that Chief Justice Roberts received the first three complaints a week before Kavanaugh denied the sexual assault allegation by Christine Blasey Ford.
Ethicist Stephen Gillers of New York University told Courthouse News via email, that he disagreed with Hellman, stating that the complaints “allege misconduct that occurred while Kavanaugh was on the D.C. Circuit and subject to the Code of Conduct for U.S. Judges. Any violation of the Code does not disappear because he is now on another federal court,” Gillers added that the complaints “may be found not to be meritorious in the end.”
Chief Justice Robert’s sent his letter to Chief Judge Timothy Tymkovich of the 10th Circuit. Chief Judge TymKovich is a Bush appointee, who Politico reports is also on President Trump’s list of Supreme Court Justice picks.