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'Um, sorry': GOP senator embarrasses Biden judicial nominee with question about basic court functions
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'Um, sorry': GOP senator embarrasses Biden judicial nominee with question about basic court functions

Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) stumped yet another Biden judicial nominee on Wednesday when he asked for definitions of basic court actions and legal doctrines.

At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Kennedy asked Sara Hill — who President Joe Biden nominated to a federal judgeship in the Northern District of Oklahoma — a barrage of questions testing her legal knowledge.

To begin, Kennedy asked Hill to define collateral estoppel, a legal doctrine important to civil and criminal law. After hemming and hawing for several seconds, Hill claimed she knew the doctrine but never provided an answer and blamed "the bright lights of the moment" for her failure to provide a substantive answer.

Next, Kennedy asked Hill about the amount in controversy requirement, the 13th Amendment, and the Seventh Amendment. She passed those questions with flying colors.

But when Kennedy asked Hill to define the difference between a "stay" and an "injunction" — two critical functions of a court — Hill was stumped.

"A stay order would prohibit — um, sorry. An injunction would restrain the parties from taking action. A stay order— I'm not sure I can, actually can, can give you that," Hill responded.

Kennedy questions Sara Hill in Judiciarywww.youtube.com

A "stay" and an "injunction" are two forms of judicial relief, and there is an important distinction between the two.

An injunction is a judicial order that compels a party in a case to act or enjoins them from acting in a certain way. A stay, on the other hand, temporarily halts legal proceedings to protect the rights of a party. In federal court, stays are commonly issued on district court rulings when the case is appealed to a higher court.

After Hill fumbled the question, Kennedy pressed her about multidistrict litigation, Rule 12(b)(6), and the standard of cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment.

When Kennedy concluded his questions, committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D) congratulated Hill for "surviving the John Kennedy six-minute bar exam." Hill admitted in response that one of her law school professors would be "appalled" at her performance.

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