During her confirmation hearing, President Biden’s nominee for a federal judgeship in Washington state was unable to answer straightforward Constitutional questions from Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.).
“Tell me what Article V of the Constitution does,” Kennedy questioned Spokane County Superior Court Judge Charnelle Bjelkengren at Wednesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
“Article V isn’t coming to mind right now,” Bjelkengren replied.
“How about Article II?” Kennedy persisted.
“Neither is Article II,” Bjelkengren blanked, leaving Kennedy puzzled.
Bjelkengren was nominated by Biden to be a federal judge in the Eastern District of Washington.
Article V outlines the procedure for ratifying revisions to the Constitution, whereas Article II grants the president executive authority.
Kennedy next asked Bjelkengren, a law graduate from Gonzaga, to define “purposivism,” the process by which judges read statutes.
She was at a loss yet again, but she tried to explain.
“In my 12 years as an assistant attorney general, in my nine years as a judge, I was not faced with that precise question,” Bjelkengren told Kennedy.
“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.”
“Well, you’re going to be faced with it if you’re confirmed, I can assure you of that,” Kennedy told her.
Kennedy is well-known for questioning judicial candidates like a schoolmaster.
Matthew Petersen, President Donald Trump’s nominee to the federal bench, withdrew his name from consideration in 2017 when a video revealed him unable to answer questions presented by Kennedy.
“Just because you’ve seen ‘My Cousin Vinny’ doesn’t qualify you to be a federal judge,” the often-folksy Kennedy told Petersen at the time.
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