Key judge opens the door for ethics inquiry into Mitch McConnell's actions to shape federal courts
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (screengrab)

Sen. Mitch McConnell may be facing an independent investigation into whether he pressured federal judges into retiring.


"Just days before a high-profile Senate confirmation hearing to fill a vacancy on the prestigious U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the court’s chief judge has opened the door to an inquiry into whether ethical improprieties occurred in the creation of the coveted opening," The New York Times reported Monday.

"In an order dated May 1, Judge Sri Srinivasan asked Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. to assign another circuit to look into a complaint filed by the progressive advocacy group Demand Justice, which questioned the timing and circumstances of Judge Thomas B. Griffith’s retirement announcement in early March," the newspaper explained.

"The advocacy group acted in March after disclosures that Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader who has focused intently on conservative judicial confirmations the past three years, had been contacting appeals court judges nominated by Republican presidents to encourage them to retire. In the case of Judge Griffith, his retirement opened the way for President Trump to nominate Justin Walker, a 37-year-old protégé of Mr. McConnell’s whom the senator had ardently promoted for the seat," The Times reported.

The group Demand Justice said McConnell's actions were unprecedented.

“The coordinated manner of Majority Leader McConnell’s involvement in the judges’ decision-making is quite unprecedented and raises significant ethical questions for the judges who heed his advice,” the group said while requesting the investigation.