Biden Judicial Nominee Stumped By Basic Constitution Questions: ‘Not Coming To Mind’

One of President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees was thoroughly stumped by basic questions about the US Constitution and legal theory posed by Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) on Wednesday.

Judge Charnelle Bjelkengren, of Spokane County Superior Court in Washington State, has been nominated by Biden to serve on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington.

“Tell me what Article V of the Constitution does,” Kennedy asked Bjelkengren during his confirmation hearing.

After a moment’s hesitation, the judge replied, “Article V is not coming to mind at the moment.”

Kennedy quickly followed up with another question: “How about Article II?”

After another long pause, Bjelkengren admitted that she didn’t know what Article II pertained to either.

Article V of the Constitution concerns the amendments process, and Article II covers the Executive power of the President of the United States, as well as enumerating the powers of the Executive Branch.

Kennedy then asked the judge if she knew what purposivism was. Purposivism is the philosophy of interpreting the law through “the spirit of the law,” as opposed to textualism, which only considers the text of written statutes.

“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 said.

“We are the highest trial court in Washington State, so I’m frequently faced with issues that I’m not familiar with,” Bjelkengren added. “And I thoroughly review the law, I research, and apply the law to the facts presented to me.”

Kennedy retorted, “Well, you’re going to be faced with it if you’re confirmed, I can assure you of that.”

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee appointed Bjelkengren to the Spokane County Superior Court in 2019, where she was celebrated as the “first female African American judge in Eastern Washington.”


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