CRINGEWORTHY: Biden's judicial nominee fails John Kennedy's quiz on the Constitution

“Article V is not coming to mind at the moment.”

Ari Hoffman Seattle WA
During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for President Joe Biden’s Federal District Court nominees on Wednesday, a left-leaning judge could not answer simple questions about the US Constitution.

Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) began by asking Judge Charnelle Bjelkengren, nominee for the Eastern District of Washington about Article V of the US Constitution.

Bjelkengren responded, "Article V is not coming to mind at the moment." Article V outlines the process in which the Constitution can be amended.

Kennedy then asked, "Okay, how about Article II?"

"Neither is Article II," Bjelkengren replied. Article II establishes the executive branch of the federal government, outlining the branch's roles and duties.

After a pause, Kennedy asked the judge, "Do you know what 'Purposivism' is?" referencing the legal theory that statutes should be interpreted according to their "purpose," as opposed to the plain text meaning.

The judge replied, "Um, in my 12 years as an Assistant Attorney General, uh, 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, um, issues that I'm not familiar with, and I thoroughly review the law, our research, and apply the law to the facts presented to me."

Kennedy responded, "Well, you're gonna be faced with it if you're confirmed, I can assure you." He then pivoted to the next nominee, Matthew P. Brookman, nominee for the Southern District of Indiana.

After questioning the other nominees, Kennedy pivoted back to Bjelkengren.

"Can you tell me what the Independent State Legislature Theory is?" Kennedy asked. "I'm just asking you not your opinion, just what is it? It's before the Supreme Court now."

Bjelkengren repeated her previous answer, "Uh, in my 12 years as a Washington State Assistant Attorney General..." Kennedy sighed and said "Right," before the judge continued, "and that particular, um, doctrine was not presented to me."

Moore vs. Harper, which is currently before the US Supreme Court, involves challenges to North Carolina's congressional map and involves the Independent State Legislature Theory, which argues that the US Constitution gives state elected officials near-absolute power to regulate federal elections without any checks and balances from state courts, governors, or other bodies with legislative power.

Bjelkengren previously served as an Assistant Attorney General in the Washington State Attorney General's office and an Administrative Law Judge for Washington State's Office of Administrative Hearings and is currently a judge on the Spokane County Superior Court. She was appointed to the Spokane County Superior Court by Democrat Governor Jay Inslee following a recommendation for her nomination by Democratic Senator Patty Murray.

President Joe Biden nominated Bjelkengren to the seat vacated by Judge Salvador Mendoza Jr., who was elevated to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. 

The other nominees at the hearing were Michael Farbiarz for the District Of New Jersey, Robert Kirsch for the District of New Jersey, and Eleta Merchant for the Eastern District Of New York.

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