Breaking News
More () »

VERIFY: Can justices on the Supreme Court face criminal, civil charges?

Many are wondering if Brett Kavanaugh could still face legal repercussions while serving on the Supreme Court.
Credit: Zach Gibson/Getty Images
The U.S. Supreme Court is pictured on September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. On Thursday, Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, is testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Brett Kavanaugh was passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee, which means he's one step closer to becoming the next Supreme Court Justice.

But what can be done about the sexual assault claims made by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and the other women who have come out with allegations against Kavanaugh?


Can a Supreme Court Justice still face criminal or civil charges in their role? And what would be the outcome?


While justices and all judges for that matter are granted "judicial immunity" for lawsuits related to cases or trials they oversee, for crimes or actions committed outside their role, they face the same punishments and judicial actions as any other US citizen.

The only difference is that a justice on the Supreme Court won't lose their seat if they're found guilty. The only way a justice can be removed from their position is by an act of Congress.


A detailed explanation of impeachment procedures and qualifications can be found in a 35-page research document by the Congressional Research Service.

Published in 2010, it details numerous cases involving previous judges who have been impeached and what happened to them.

To save readers a wall of text, we're breaking it down into some main points:

  • While justices can be accused, tried and even found guilty of any crime, they won't lost their Supreme Court seat because of any sentence.
  • The only way a justice on the Supreme Court can be removed is by impeachment and subsequent conviction.
  • Like in cases involving the president and vice president, impeachment of a justice requires a majority of the US House of Representatives to approve the "impeachment" and then a 2/3 "supermajority" of the US Senate would have to convict the justice.
  • While there is one historical case of a justice being impeached, he was cleared of wrongdoing by the Senate. This means that no justice on the Supreme Court has ever been removed from their seat.


Help our journalists VERIFY the news. Do you know someone else we should interview for this story? Did we miss anything in our reporting? Is there another story you'd like us to VERIFY? Click here.

Before You Leave, Check This Out