A Tale of Two Woeful Judicial Nominees
Knowledge of even the most basic legal principles is of little concern to Joe Biden, whose nominees need only check the right boxes.
Remember back in 2016, when candidate Donald Trump publicly promoted a list of his potential Supreme Court nominees? He did so because he knew it was a good list — a list developed in consultation with the Federalist Society, the nation’s most influential organization of conservative and libertarian legal minds.
How influential is the Federalist Society? This influential: Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett are all current or former members of the organization. (In fairness, so is Chief Justice John Roberts, but five out of six ain’t bad.)
The point is, we don’t see Joe Biden sharing any lists of his potential judicial nominees. And for good reason: Many of them aren’t qualified to sit on a park bench, much less a judicial one.
So it goes with an administration more disposed to promotion based on identity rather than merit; an administration that too often looks not to the content of one’s character but the color of one’s skin or the claim of one’s gender.
Think about it: Was Kamala Harris the best qualified vice president Biden could find? Of course not. What about Pete Buttigieg as transportation secretary, or Lloyd Austin as defense secretary, or Sam Brinton as a luggage thief, or Rachel Levine as an assistant secretary for health, or Karine Jean-Pierre as a press secretary? No, no, no, no, and no.
But, hey, they checked a lot of boxes.
Two recent examples of this identity fixation epitomize Biden’s efforts to stock the judiciary with unqualified leftists. In late January, his nominee for a federal judgeship in Washington state, Spokane County Superior Court Judge Charnelle Bjelkengren, couldn’t answer a pair of simple questions posed by Louisiana Republican John Kennedy during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“Tell me what Article V of the Constitution does,” Kennedy asked her.
To which Bjelkengren replied, “Article V is not coming to mind at the moment.”
Article V is pretty simple: It lays out the means for amending the Constitution. But, hey, anyone can have a brain fart. “How about Article II?” Kennedy asked.
“Neither is Article II,” Bjelkengren responded.
Article II of the Constitution, as we all learned in junior high civics class, establishes and defines the executive branch. Any judicial nominee who can’t reflexively blurt out something so fundamental should be immediately disqualified.
Alas, as Senator Kennedy once memorably said, “Just because you’ve seen ‘My Cousin Vinny’ doesn’t qualify you to be a federal judge.”
Seriously. How does a jurist who doesn’t even know what Article II is get past the first interview? Heck, how does she get into law school?
More recently, this past Wednesday, one Kato Crews came before the Judiciary Committee as Biden’s nominee for judge of the U.S. District Court of Colorado, whereupon Kennedy asked him how he’d “analyze a Brady motion.”
A Brady motion, which stems from the landmark 1963 Brady v. Maryland decision, is the fundamental legal principle that the prosecution must hand over potentially favorable evidence to the defense — you know, like the Biden Justice Department failed to do in case after case after case against the January 6 defendants.
Crews, though, said he hadn’t “had the occasion to address a Brady motion” during his years on the bench. That probably seemed remarkable to Kennedy, so he asked Crews if he knew what a Brady motion is.
After Crews confessed that the concept wasn’t coming to mind, Kennedy tried to help him by asking if he was familiar with the Brady v. Maryland case.
“I believe that the Brady case involved something regarding the Second Amendment,” Crews replied. “I have not had an occasion to address that.” No, the Brady Campaign has something to do with destroying the Second Amendment, and we have a hunch Crews would side with that gun-grabbing organization.
Of course, none of this matters to Biden, or to Democrats in general. Whereas the Federalist Society tethers itself to the belief “that the state exists to preserve freedom, that the separation of governmental powers is central to our constitution, and that it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be,” the Left has no such judicial touchstone.
If anything, the Left would argue that the province and duty of the judiciary is exactly the opposite: to say what the law should be rather than what it is. And if that’s the case, then Charnelle Bjelkengren and Kato Crews are perfectly suited to serve.
If these two are any indication of the talent Joe Biden is putting on the bench, then our third branch of government will not only be despotic, but also incompetent.
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