A more than decade-old conflict between a judiciary rule and the statute governing judicial misconduct proceedings is fueling Republican lawmakers’ criticism of a high-profile investigation into two federal judges’ actions.

Last month, the Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability of the U.S. Judicial Conference reopened investigations into Judges William Pryor and Corey Maze over their hiring of law clerk Crystal Clanton after she was accused of sending racist texts. Justice Clarence Thomas recommended the judges hire Clanton. The committee ordered the appointment of a special committee to further probe the matter after Chief Judge Debra Ann Livingston of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit dismissed the complaints in January.