Sen. John Kennedy posed some basic questions about the U.S. Constitution to Joe Biden's judicial nominee, Spokane County Superior Court Judge Charnelle Bjelkengren, during her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Unfortunately for Kennedy and America, it seems that Bjelkengren was unable to provide satisfactory answers to rather basic questions.
The nomination of Bjelkengren by Biden was meant to fill the position of U.S. district judge for the Eastern District of Washington. However, she needed to get through Kennedy's line of questioning pertaining to the Constitution and statutory interpretation. The Senator asked two questions concerning the Constitution and one relating to how statutes are intended to be interpreted when they come into play legally.
Unfortunately for Kennedy and Bjelkengren alike, she was not able to answer his questions satisfactorily enough for him to feel comfortable with her confirmation as a district judge - posing a rather significant roadblock for her appointment moving forward. In fact, she couldn't answer them at all!
“Tell me what Article V of the Constitution does,” Kennedy asked Bjelkengren.
“Article V is not coming to mind at the moment,” she responded.
“How about Article II?” Kennedy asked.
“Neither is Article II,” Bjelkengren said, leaving Kennedy scratching his head.
Article V of the U.S. Constitution outlines the process for amending the Constitution, while Article II outlines the executive powers vested in the president of the United States.
Kennedy again left the Gonzaga University School of Law graduate stumped when he asked her to define “purposivism,” which is a form of statutory interpretation that “maintains that the legal effect of a statute should be determined by the objective purpose of the statute,” according to Legal Theory Blog.
“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.”