Merrick Garland recuses himself from ethics complaints against Kavanaugh

The statement did not explain why Garland — whose own nomination to the Supreme Court in 2016 was unsuccessful after Republicans refused to act on it — had decided to step aside, or provide an update on the status of the complaints.

Multiple ethics complaints have been filed against Kavanaugh in his current court, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, about his testimony in recent weeks in the US Senate and his response to allegations of sexual misconduct. The chief judge of the circuit normally handles ethics cases, but they have discretion to step aside if they conclude “circumstances warrant disqualification,” under the federal judiciary’s rules.

If the chief judge is disqualified, the complaint falls to the next most senior judge of the court, in this case Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson, who issued Saturday’s statement. The fact that the statement came from the DC Circuit suggests it hasn’t been transferred to another circuit.