One of President Joe Biden's judicial nominees was recently stumped when Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) asked her basic questions about the United States Constitution.
At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to consider several federal court nominees, Kennedy used his opportunity to question Charnelle Marie Bjelkengren, whom Biden appointed for a federal district court position, by quizzing her knowledge of basic legal texts and theory.
Kennedy queeried Bjelkengren: "Tell me what Article V of the Constitution does.”
Bjelkengren replied, "Article V is not coming to mind at the moment."
(Article V of the Constitution explains the procedure for amending the Constitution, including the process for how amendments are proposed and how they are ratified.)
Kennedy, pressing on, asked, "How about Article II?"
"Neither is Article II," Bjelkengren responded.
(Article II establishes the executive branch and defines its powers. It explains the role of the presidency, how a president is elected and removed from office, and the president's unique responsibilities and powers.)
It’s hard to support and defend the Constitution—or determine what is or isn’t legal under it-- if you don’t know what’s in it…or why.
I envision Kennedy asking Bjelkengren other questions pertinent to the American system of government, of which she aspires to be a part.
Kennedy: “Ms. Bjelkengren, can you tell me what the First Amendment to the Constitution does, what it guarantees?”
Bjelkengren: “I am afraid to say. Can I plead the Sixth?”
Kennedy: “You mean the Fifth?”
Bjelkengren: “Um, yeah, I guess so.”
Kennedy: “Do you know what the Fifth Amendment says?”
Bjelkengren: “I think so………well, no.”
Kennedy: “Shouldn’t a judge, whose job is to uphold the Constitution, know what is in it?”
Bjelkengren: “Um, yeah, I guess so, maybe. I don’t know. But I think you are mansplaining me. And I think you are a misogynist and a homophobe and a transphobe and part of the white supremacist patriarchy that founded this country in 1619.”
Kennedy (with head hanging down): “SIGH.”