Biden judicial nominee Charnelle Bjelkengren stumped by basic Constitution questions
Wrong answer, Your Honor.
President Biden’s nominee for a federal judgeship in Washington state proved unable to answer simple questions about the Constitution from Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) during her confirmation hearing.
“Tell me what Article V of the Constitution does,” Kennedy asked of Judge Charnelle Bjelkengren during the Senate Judiciary Committee’s proceedings Wednesday.
“Article V is not coming to mind at the moment,” Bjelkengren responded.
“How about Article II?” Kennedy pressed.
“Neither is Article II,” Bjelkengren blanked, leaving Kennedy scratching his head.
Biden nominated Bjelkengren to serve as a federal judge in the Eastern District of Washington.
Article V lays out the process for ratifying amendments to the Constitution, while Article II invests the office of the president with executive powers.
Kennedy then asked Bjelkengren, a graduate of Gonzaga University School of Law, to define “purposivism,” the method by which judges interpret statutes.
Once again, she was at a loss but 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 his schoolmasterly grilling of judicial candidates.
In 2017, then-President Donald Trump’s nominee to the federal judiciary, Matthew Petersen, pulled his name from consideration after a video showed him unable to answer questions posed 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.