Kamala Harris’ First Amendment Record Could be Her Campaign’s Achilles’ Heel
Editor’s Note: Texas Right to Life Media & Communications Director Kimberlyn Schwartz co-authored this piece with PJ Media columnist Dustin Siggins.
The 2020 Democratic presidential primary is heating up all over the country. In late March, rising party star, U.S. senator, and candidate Kamala Harris tested her connection with Democratic primary voters by taking on fellow liberal heartthrob Beto O’Rourke in his own state. According to Politico, Harris made speeches, reached out to state lawmakers, and otherwise refused to concede The Lone Star State to O’Rourke.
This is a gutsy move by Harris, but it fits with the brilliance of her campaign. She has refused to back down on targeting dangerous felons as California’s attorney general, called for Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s resignation after his blackface photo surfaced, and — as University of Virginia Center for Politics Director Larry Sabato recently told Texas Monthly — "had the best organized and most impressive launch of the Democratic candidates who have announced." Unlike most of her primary opponents, she’s had no personal or professional crises, and her third-place ranking in polls is likely due to the name recognition of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Vice President Joe Biden — something which she has almost a year to change.
However, if Harris is the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee in 2020, the biggest baggage of all will come to the forefront: Her prosecution of the First Amendment as attorney general.
Under Harris’ leadership, California prosecuted pro-life activists David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt for producing undercover videos of Planned Parenthood’s fetal tissue sales. Like Harris County, Kamala Harris brought suit against the pair.
Also like Harris County, Harris’ persecution failed with fourteen of 15 California charges dismissed in 2017. All Harris County charges have been dismissed.
Harris’s attacks on the First Amendment didn’t stop with Daleiden and Merritt. Her office was involved in crafting a Planned Parenthood-authored law that rendered some journalism illegal in California. That law was criticized by pro-life leaders, free speech advocates and the pro-abortion Los Angeles Times. The backlash was so severe that the bill’s sponsor was forced to modify it prior to passage to reduce its impact on the First Amendment.
Finally, Harris went after the First Amendment rights of pro-life pregnancy resource center volunteers and staff. As both attorney general and U.S. senator, Harris tried to force centers to refer for taxpayer-funded abortions. She failed in both efforts; the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the centers last year.
Should Harris secure the Democratic Party presidential nomination, her assaults on the First Amendment will be a major issue. President Donald Trump is likely to be the GOP’s nominee, and his 2016 victory was driven by the concerns of social conservatives as well as concerns about Supreme Court appointments. Trump made stark pro-life statements and promises during the 2016 campaign, all of which he has upheld, and his administration recently finalized a rule that strips Planned Parenthood of approximately 10 percent of its government funding.
In short, Trump has run a pro-life administration. Meanwhile, Harris has persecuted journalists, backed unconstitutional measures to protect the abortion industry and hired former Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards’ daughter (and former Texas Governor Ann Richards’ granddaughter) as her communications director. Lily Adams is as pro-abortion as both Cecile and Ann.
With this baggage, Harris is a very attractive primary candidate for Democratic voters — and a terrible general election nominee. All Trump and other GOP candidates have to do is tie "Killer Kamala" to Daleiden’s videos of Planned Parenthood staff piling up baby limbs. Her assaults on the First Amendment mean that she has a Beto-like connection with the Democratic Party’s base, but probably also end up with Hillary Clinton's, Beto’s, and Wendy Davis’ fruitless results in the voting booth.