It didn’t take much for Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) to stump Charnelle Bjelkengren, Biden’s nominee to be United States District Judge for the Eastern District Of Washington.
All it took was a couple of basic questions about the United States Constitution. Watch:
“Judge, tell me what Article V of the Constitution does?” Senator Kennedy asked.
“Article 5 is not coming to mind at the moment,” Bjelkengren replied.
“How about Article II?” Kennedy followed up.
“Neither is Article II,” she answered.
Senator Kennedy scratched his head and tried another one.
“Okay do you know what purposivism is?” he asked.
“In my 12 years as an Assistant Attorney General and my nine years serving as a judge, I was not faced with that precise question,” she responded.
“We are the highest trial court in Washington state,” she went on, “so I’m frequently faced with 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.”
“Well, you’re going to be faced with it, if you’re confirmed, I can assure you of that,” Kennedy remarked.
As of January 23, 2023, the United States Senate has confirmed 97 of Biden’s Article III judges. It has confirmed one Associate Justice to the Supreme Court, 28 judges for the United States courts of appeals, and 68 judges for the United States district courts.
The Brookings Institute tracked President Biden’s judicial appointments through two years and office and found them to be at a record pace. However, there are now major headwinds in his way to surpass his predecessor Donald Trump’s appointments.
“Hallmarks of first-year Biden judicial appointees were their diversity but also their sheer number— more first year appellate and district court appointments than any president since JFK,” Russell Wheeler notes. “Biden’s end-of-two-year numbers will outpace most of his recent predecessors.”
“To reach record confirmations for Biden’s four-years, Senate Democrats—some facing tough 2024 races—will need to maintain party unity and avoid temporary or permanent reductions in their 50 or 51 vote majority from illness or worse.” the report adds. “And opposition senators have ways of slowing and sometimes scuttling nominations and confirmations.”
“However those factors play out, three additional factors will challenge Biden’s ability to top Donald Trump’s four-year record of 231 appointments—54 court of appeals (circuit) judges and 177 district judges,” the story continues. “Those factors will also make it almost impossible for Biden to reverse the shift Trump accomplished in the courts of appeals’ party-of-appointing-president composition. The factors are the paucity of projected vacancies, who’s likely to create the vacancies, and the administration’s disinclination so far to fill district vacancies in red and purple states.”
It also appears that basic knowledge of the United States Constitution could be an issue for certain judicial nominees.
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