Whom Is Biden Nominating to the Federal Bench?

On Wednesday, a group of Biden nominees to district court judgeships came before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senator John Kennedy asked one of the nominees, Spokane County Superior Court Judge Charnelle Bjelkengren, some basic questions about the Constitution. Her inability to answer them has gotten a lot of attention:

To be fair, constitutional questions rarely come before a state court trial judge. And, like Judge Bjelkengren, I am not familiar with “purposivism.”

But Article II of the Constitution establishes the Executive Branch of the federal government. Article I is Congress, Article II is the presidency and its executive powers. Any well-informed citizen–certainly any law school graduate–should know this. If Judge Bjelkengren is confirmed, she will be an Article III judge. It is Article III of the Constitution that establishes the federal courts. It seems unlikely that she is aware of this.

Judge Bjelkengren appears to be an “identity” pick, and one can speculate that she is politically connected in Washington. But she apparently didn’t bother to read over the Constitution prior to her confirmation hearing. That seems weirdly negligent.

What sort of people is Joe Biden nominating to high positions in the federal government? I have zero confidence in either his judgment or his good intentions. But perhaps Biden’s nominees are no dimmer than Biden himself. In 2008, in his vice presidential debate with Sarah Palin (who mopped up the floor with him) Biden confused Article I and Article II. And he was, at that time, a long-time member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

So maybe Biden is selecting nominees who share his own extraordinary ignorance of the document that defines the workings of our government.

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