On Tuesday, presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden announced his running mate, the Democrats’ Great Intersectional Black-Asian Female Hope, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.). Harris ran against Biden in the 2020 Democratic primary but she dropped out last December after lackluster debate performances, citing insufficient funds to continue the campaign.
Here are five things to know about Kamala Harris.
1. Attorney General baggage
After serving as the district attorney of San Francisco (2004-2011), Harris won a close race to become California’s attorney general (2010-2017). In that position, she took a tough-on-crime stance that would become extremely controversial in the 2020 primary.
Harris attempted to run against many of the things she stood for while serving as attorney general. Both Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and Biden himself attacked Harris for her tough-on-crime record during the second Democratic presidential debate last June.
In a shameful episode of pandering, Harris tried to craft a story about smoking marijuana in college. Last February, she told “The Breakfast Club” that she broke the law in college while listening to rappers whose music hadn’t come out by the time she graduated college — or even law school, for that matter.
On these issues, Harris came across as duplicitous and deceptive.
2. Her record of silencing dissent
Harris didn’t just crack down on crime as attorney general. She also used her position to silence her ideological opponents.
In 2014, David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released a slew of undercover sting videos showing Planned Parenthood staff admitting to selling aborted baby body parts for profit, with one even joking about buying a Lamborghini with the profits. Planned Parenthood hired the firm Fusion GPS, now notorious for assembling the Trump-Russia dossier, to obscure the facts and suggest the videos were deceptively edited.
Kamala Harris, who has received at least $81,000 from Planned Parenthood, was serving as California’s attorney general at the time. In 2016, her office searched Daleiden’s home, seizing his video footage and preparing a legal case against him. In 2017, Harris’s successor, Xavier Becerra (another politician bankrolled by Planned Parenthood), filed 15 felony charges against CMP and Daleiden.
Peter Breen, special counsel at the Thomas More Society, briefed PJ Media on the ongoing case last July. He argued that Daleiden’s filming was taken in “entirely public places.”
“I could point you to undercover investigations that are being shown on the evening news in Los Angeles. Under the standard they are applying to David, those would be felonies,” the lawyer argued. “The other reporters are being lauded for their brave investigative techniques, but David is being prosecuted.”
“I would say this is an abuse of the criminal process,” Breen told PJ Media.
Pro-choice law professors have defended Daleiden’s right to engage in undercover journalism.
“I believe too strongly in American ideals to think that Kamala Harris and Xavier Becerra will be able to imprison innocent American citizens for our First Amendment speech,” Daleiden told The Stream’s John Zmirak. “But the fact that, working with Planned Parenthood, they have pulled out all the stops to try to do so? That should concern and outrage every American.”
3. Radical LGBT activist
When the people of California voted to define marriage as between one man and one woman in 2008, Harris refused to defend Proposition 8 when it was challenged in court. The state’s Supreme Court had ruled that marriage must be opened to same-sex couples, and the people amended the state constitution to reverse this decision.
More than 7 million Californians (52 percent) voted for traditional marriage, while 6.4 million (48 percent) voted the other way. California Attorney General Jerry Brown refused to defend Proposition 8 when it faced legal challenges, and Harris continued that approach when she became attorney general in 2011. For the first time in California history, both the governor and the attorney general refused to defend a constitutional amendment.
Then, adding insult to injury, when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals lifted its stay and allowed same-sex marriage to occur in California, Kamala Harris herself officiated the first same-sex marriage at San Francisco City Hall. Not only did Harris follow Jerry Brown in refusing to defend Proposition 8, but she also actively celebrated its legal defeat.
Harris continued the trend of opposing social conservative values in the U.S. Senate. In May 2018, Kamala Harris began the trend of attacking Trump judicial nominees over their membership in the Knights of Columbus (KOC). She asked Judge Peter Phipps how he would approach abortion due to his membership in “a group that avowedly opposes abortion.” Harris asked if he had to “swear an oath in order to join” KOC, and whether “litigants in your court can expect a fair hearing … when [KOC’s] organizational values conflict with litigants’ constitutional rights.”
In October 2018, Harris joined her fellow senators in pressuring judicial nominee Allison Rushing over her relationship with the Christian law firm Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), and asked Rushing whether she believes “that LGBT rights cannot be reconciled with religion.” She cited the far-left smear factory the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which compares ADF to the Ku Klux Klan by listing the organization as a “hate group.”
In November and December 2018, Harris joined Sen. Mazie Hirono’s (D-Hawaii) inquisition into Trump nominees Paul Matey and Brian Buescher regarding the Knights of Columbus. “Were you aware that the Knights of Columbus opposed a woman’s right to choose when you joined the organization?” Harris asked Buescher. She further pressed him on same-sex marriage, since KOC spent $1 million supporting California’s Proposition 8. Buescher pledged to uphold the law, regardless of his personal positions.
4. Demonizing Brett Kavanaugh
Harris proved one of the worst offenders in the fight against Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee (now Justice), Brett Kavanaugh. Even before the sexual assault allegations from Christine Blasey Ford surfaced, Harris was among Kavanaugh’s most vigorous opponents, even suggesting that the judge had hidden sympathies with white supremacists.
In a particularly notable bout of questioning, the senator pressed Kavanaugh on whether or not he had ever discussed the Robert Mueller investigation with anyone at the law firm where Trump’s personal lawyer worked. The nominee asked her if she had a lawyer in mind, and then said he could not say for certain unless Harris gave him a list of all the lawyers at the firm.
The senator kept pushing Kavanaugh until Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) chimed in, saying, “there is no possible way we can expect this witness to know who populates an entire firm.”
In that same questioning session, Harris pressed Kavanaugh to condemn President Donald Trump’s comments in response to the 2017 white nationalist riots in Charlottesville, Virginia. The judge upheld the independence of the judiciary, explaining that judges “are not pundits” and “stay out of political controversy.” Harris would not accept this response, but moved on to another topic.
The senator also asked Kavanaugh about the term “racial spoils system,” a term the judge used in a 2000 Wall Street Journal op-ed. “Are you aware that the term is commonly used by white supremacists?” Harris asked. She claimed “racial spoils system” is a “loaded term,” essentially a dog whistle for white supremacy.
When Kavanaugh used the term, however, he was explaining arguments against a Hawaii law restricting voting to people of a certain race, and he defended the rights of all people, “whether Latino or African-American or Caucasian, for example.” No white supremacist would complain about the harm to Latino and African-American voters.
That was far from the last time Harris would cast aspersions on Kavanaugh for his language, however. The senator seized on the judge’s use of the term “abortion-inducing drugs,” as if the very words were suspect.
“Kavanaugh chooses his words very carefully, and this is a dog whistle for going after birth control,” Kamala Harris tweeted. “He was nominated for the purpose of taking away a woman’s constitutionally protected right to make her own health care decisions. Make no mistake — this is about punishing women.”
Yet Harris knew it wasn’t about “punishing women.” When Kavanaugh spoke those words, he was summarizing someone else’s argument in a court case, the case Priests for Live v. Burwell. Not only was Kavanaugh summarizing Priests for Life’s argument, but he went on to say that the government has a “compelling interest” in making sure women had access to birth control. The judge misspoke about the case, but Harris seized on the very term “abortion-inducing drugs,” calling it a “dog whistle.”
According to this U.S. senator’s logic, the correct term for drugs that cause abortion cannot be uttered, because pro-life activists use it.
Many senators and Left-wing groups seized on Kamala Harris’s argument — which Planned Parenthood also pushed at the same time. Even Hillary Clinton repeated it after it had been fact-checked and proven utterly false.
5. Her attacks on Joe Biden
Biden’s choice of Harris is particularly odd, given the senator’s repeated attacks on the former vice president during the primary.
When Biden reminisced about a bygone era of civility in politics, praising segregationists in his own Democratic Party, Kamala Harris condemned him for coddling their reputations.
“To coddle the reputations of segregationists, of people who if they had their way, I would literally not be standing here as a member of the United States Senate … it’s misinformed and it’s wrong,” Harris told reporters last June. “Let’s be very clear. The senators that he is speaking of with such adoration are individuals who made and built their reputation on segregation. The Ku Klux Klan celebrated the election of one of them.”
Harris continued her vocal attacks on Biden, achieving her greatest notoriety when she attacked him on the issue of federally-mandated busing to racially integrate schools. Harris repeated a powerful talking point about why the issue is personal for her, with the memorable tagline: “That little girl was me.”
The only problem? She has consistently exaggerated the story, at one point making the claim that if she hadn’t attended an integrated elementary school, she wouldn’t have become a U.S. senator. In that standout debate performance, she overstated the claim on busing.
As the Sacramento Bee‘s Ryan Anderson pointed out, Harris was indeed among the second class of students at Thousand Oaks Elementary School to participate in a fully integrated busing program, but she was far from the first black child to attend that school. Worse for her debate claims, other schools in the Berkeley Unified School District had been fully integrated long before she went to that school.
Harris can rightly say she was “part of the second class to integrate her elementary school,” but she cannot say she was “part of the second class to integrate her public schools.” This is an important distinction. She was not “part of the second class to integrate Berkeley, California, public schools.” Desegregation of those schools dated back to the year before Harris was born.
It’s also important to note, as PJ Media’s Paula Bolyard reported, that forced busing to achieve racial integration was unpopular in the 1970s, didn’t work, and likely remains far less popular than school choice today — yet many 2020 Democratic presidential candidates supported it.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.