UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 27: Judge Brett Kavanaugh testifies during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on his nomination be an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, focusing on allegations of sexual assault by Kavanaugh against Christine Blasey Ford in the early 1980s. (Photo By Tom Williams/Pool/Getty Images)
Kavanaugh hearings seen through a #MeToo lens
02:39 - Source: CNN
Washington CNN  — 

A judicial conduct panel has dismissed 83 ethics complaints against Justice Brett Kavanaugh, saying it has no authority over Supreme Court justices.

The complaints arose in part from Kavanaugh’s conduct at his contentious confirmation hearing that included an accusation of sexual assault while a teenager as well as his testimony at prior hearings.

The ruling affirms a finding by 10th Circuit judicial council that dismissed the complaints in December.

Kavanaugh, then a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, made national headlines after his Supreme Court nomination when Christine Blasey Ford accused him of sexual assault in the 1980s. The accusation led to significant uncertainty regarding Kavanaugh’s nomination as Ford testified to a Senate judiciary committee in late September. Kavanaugh denies the allegations.

During his confirmation hearing, Kavanaugh claimed the accusations arose from “a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election … revenge on behalf of the Clintons and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups.”

His conduct in his confirmation hearing led to a flood of criticism, much of which questioned whether he had the temperament to be a justice. Kavanaugh wrote an October 4 essay for The Wall Street Journal, acknowledging, “I was very emotional last Thursday, more so than I have ever been. I might have been too emotional at times. I know that my tone was sharp, and I said a few things I should not have said.”

The complaints themselves were characterized as largely coming from statements and testimonies in hearings, not his conduct while serving on the bench.

The Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability of the Judicial Conference of the United States dismissed the complaints holding that it was governed by rules that do not cover “complaints against a judge who has resigned his or her judicial office and thereafter been confirmed as a Justice of the Supreme Court.”

The panel concluded that, like the 10th Circuit, it lacked statutory authority because as a Supreme Court justice, Kavanaugh is not a judge subject to the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act.