One of President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees was stumped Wednesday when Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) asked him basic questions about the Constitution.
At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to consider several federal court nominations, Kennedy took the opportunity to question Charnelle Marie Bjelkengren, whom Biden nominated to a federal district court position, questioning her knowledge of legal texts basics and theory.
“Tell me what Article V of the Constitution does,” he demanded first.
Surprisingly, Bjelkengren replied, “Article V doesn’t come to mind at this point.”
Article V of the Constitution, the second shortest of the seven articles, explains the procedure for amending the Constitution, both the process of proposing amendments and the manner of ratifying them.
“And Article II?” Kennedy pressed in response
“Neither is Article II,” Bjelkengren replied.
Article II establishes the executive power and defines its powers. It explains the role of the presidency, how a president is elected and removed, and the president’s unique powers and responsibilities.
Bjelkengren’s inability to explain the text of the Constitution was particularly surprising because most Americans are taught the basic ideas of the Constitution’s seven articles in high school civics class.
Q: Judge, tell me what Article V of the Constitution does? is there Article II?u201dnnNominee: u201cNeither is Article IIu201dnnu201d
— Washington Free Beacon (@WashingtonFreeBeacon) 1674749145
Finally, Kennedy asked Bjelkengren if he is aware of “purpose,” a legal interpretive theory that emphasizes considering the purpose of a law or policy when interpreting it. The question is important because of the rise of propositional interpretations.
Unfortunately, Bjelkengren could not answer the question.
“In my 12 years as a deputy attorney general, in my nine years as a judge, I didn’t face that precise question,” he replied. “We’re the trial court in the state of Washington, so I’m often faced with issues I’m unfamiliar with, and I thoroughly review the law, research and apply the law to the facts that come before me.”
Kennedy replied, “Well, you’ll face it if you’re confirmed, I can assure you.”
Bjelkengren has served as a Spokane County Superior Court judge since 2019.
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