Democratic Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin excused the failure of a Biden federal judicial nominee to answer constitutional questions posed during her Wednesday Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, arguing few committee members could answer most of the questions themselves, according to HuffPost’s Igor Bobic.
When Republican Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy asked Spokane County Superior Court Judge Charnelle Bjelkengren at the hearing what Articles 2 and 5 of the Constitution do and whether she knew what “purposivism” is, Bjelkengren said neither article was “coming to mind at the moment” and she “was not faced with that precise” third question in 12 years as assistant attorney general or nine years as a judge. Durbin, who chairs the committee, expressed confidence to Bobic that Bjelkengren would be confirmed, arguing, “The honest answer is, there aren’t many members of the Judiciary committee who can answer all those questions.”
President Joe Biden has nominated Bjelkengren to be U.S. District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Washington.
Articles 2 and 5 respectively establish the presidency and the constitutional amendment process. Purposivism is a legal theory that calls for prioritizing interpretations to further a law’s purpose, while textualism is concerned chiefly with a law’s text itself, according to the Congressional Research Service.
Though Durbin admitted to Bobic that judicial nominees should know what Article 2 is, he added, “But what I’m saying is, you’re in the middle of a hearing, a little nervous to start with…it happens.”
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