GOP Senator Stumps Biden's Judicial Nominee with Basic Questions About Constitution: 'How Do You Not Know This?'
As far as hiring and appointing is concerned, it sadly looks like the one common trait President Joe Biden seeks out is sheer incompetence.
That was evidenced again in an utterly humiliating Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this week regarding Biden’s nomination of Charnelle Bjelkengren to sit on the bench for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington.
One would expect that having served in multiple high-level judicial roles, including as an administrative law judge and a superior court judge in addition to serving as an assistant attorney general in the Washington State Office of the Attorney General, Bjelkengren would have a solid grasp of the U.S. Consitution.
On Wednesday, during a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, Louisiana Republican Sen. John Kennedy asked Biden’s nominee a few questions that even a local circuit court judge would likely know. But she didn’t, and it was difficult to watch.
Wasting no time at all, Sen. Kennedy called on Bjelkengren to describe what Article V of the U.S. Constitution does. Her response should be a massive red flag.
“Article V is not coming to mind at the moment,” Bjelkengren replied.
As virtually anyone who took middle or high school civics class would know, Article V describes the procedures to make amendments to the Constitution. How someone of Bjelkengren’s legal background could not answer such a shockingly easy question is concerning, to say the least.
“How does a judge not know the Constitution? Isn’t that the core of the Federal judicial system?” one Twitter user wrote.
How does a judge not know the Constitution? Isn’t that the core of the Federal judicial system?
— phloggo (@phloggo) January 26, 2023
“Embarrassing: Watch Senator John Kennedy stump a Biden judicial nominee with basic questions about the U.S. Constitution,” Kyle Becker tweeted.
Embarrassing: Watch Senator John Kennedy stump a Biden judicial nominee with basic questions about the U.S. Constitution. pic.twitter.com/HM7i1VxR1q
— Kyle Becker (@kylenabecker) January 26, 2023
Kennedy wasn’t finished with his line of what should have been softball questions. “How about Article II?” Kennedy asked.
With a blank stare and awkward smile, Bjelkengren responded, “Neither is Article II.”
The confirmation hearing probably should have been stopped at this point, as an experienced judge who doesn’t know that Article II of the Constitution describes the Executive Branch of government should not be allowed to sit in a powerful federal judgeship that could have massive implications on future policies concerning Executive Branch decisions.
“As a judge, how do you not know this?!” one Twitter user asked.
Another Twitter user added, “That was painful to watch; arguably horrific.”
One Twitter user pointed out that Kennedy wasn’t even going hard at that point. “The sad thing is that he’s not asking ‘gotcha’ questions,” the user wrote.
Kennedy, looking slightly bewildered as an experienced lawyer himself, wound up a fastball at that point and hit her with a more advanced question that she also should have known with her years of high-profile legal experience and a law degree from Gonzaga University School of Law.
“Do you know what purposivism is?” Kennedy asked. The legal term, as described by Legal Theory Lexicon, refers “to the approach to statutory interpretation that maintains that the legal effect of a statute should be determined by the objective purpose of the statute.”
Bjelkengren’s response was uninspiring.
“Um, in my 12 years as an assistant attorney general and my nine years serving as a judge, I was not faced with that precise question. Um, we are the highest trial court in Washington state so I’m frequently faced with issues that I’m not familiar with and I thoroughly review the law, I research, and apply the law to the facts presented to me,” Bjelkengren responded.
A simple “I haven’t the slightest clue” would have saved everyone a lot of time.
Sen. Kennedy was clearly unimpressed, as everyone in the hearing should have been.
It was noted in the Alliance For Justice fact sheet that if confirmed, Bjelkengren would be “the first black woman to serve on a federal District Court in the state of Washington.”
The Biden administration will undoubtedly tout that headline if she’s confirmed, but skin color shouldn’t matter whatsoever. The only thing that matters is that a potential federal judge, at the very least, knows and understands the foundations of the U.S. Constitution.
One can only imagine how embarrassed her Gonzaga law professors must have been when watching that disaster of a hearing.
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