Born to an Indian mother and a Jamaican father in Oakland, California on October 20, 1964, Kamala Devi Harris earned a B.A. from Howard University in 1986 and a JD from the UC Hastings College of Law in 1989. She subsequently served as: Deputy District Attorney for Alameda County from 1990-98; managing attorney of the Career Criminal Unit of the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office from …
Born to an Indian mother and a Jamaican father in Oakland, California on October 20, 1964, Kamala Devi Harris earned a B.A. from Howard University in 1986 and a JD from the UC Hastings College of Law in 1989. She subsequently served as: Deputy District Attorney for Alameda County from 1990-98; managing attorney of the Career Criminal Unit of the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office from 1998-2000; head of the San Francisco City Attorney’s Division on Families and Children from 2000-03; San Francisco’s District Attorney from 2004-11; and Attorney General of California from 2011-16.
A few days after San Francisco police officer Isaac Espinoza was shot and killed by a gang member in 2004, District Attorney Harris – who had campaigned for that office on a pledge that she would never pursue capital punishment for any criminal, because she considered it unjust and immoral – announced that she would not seek a death sentence for Officer Espinoza’s killer.
In 2008, Harris was disturbed when California voters approved Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in that state. In December 2010, as she prepared to commence her tenure as California Attorney General, Harris announced that her AG office – in a departure from the custom whereby AGs traditionally defend state laws – would not defend Proposition 8 before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. “It’s well within the authority vested in me as the elected attorney general to use the discretion of my office to make decisions about how we will use our resources and what issue we will weigh in on or not,” Harris said. When Proposition 8 eventually went before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013, Harris stated: “I declined to defend Proposition 8 because it violates the Constitution. The Supreme Court has described marriage as a fundamental right 14 times since 1888. The time has come for this right to be afforded to every citizen.” When the Supreme Court decided in June 2015 to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide, Harris called it an “incredible day in history.” “California is validated. We are validated,” she said during a news conference in Sacramento. “Each day that one of those couples have to go without being able to have their marriage and their love legally recognized,” Harris added, “… is one day too long.” Harris also directed a message to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who dissented from the decision and depicted California as a cultural outlier. “Don’t hate the playa, hate the game,” said Harris.
In 2011, pro-Israel legal experts affiliated with the AMCHA Initiative, the Israel Law Center, and the Global Frontier Justice Center petitioned then-Attorney General Harris to sue David Klein, a California State University at Northridge (CSUN) mathematics professor who was a member of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, and who served as the faculty adviser to CSUN’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. Specifically, the three pro-Israel groups charged that Klein was using his publicly funded, university-provided website to promote the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a pro-Hamas initiative, in violation of laws prohibiting taxpayer dollars from being used to finance non-business-related endeavors. But Harris rejected all efforts to persuade her to bring charges against Klein. When the pro-Israel groups tried again, in 2012, to push Harris to take action against the professor, Harris said there was insufficient evidence upon which to base a lawsuit. AMCHA co-founder and director Tammi Benjamin described Harris’s response to AMCHA’s overtures as “very curt and short.”
On December 4, 2012, Attorney General Harris issued a memo informing all the executives of California’s state and local law-enforcement agencies that they could “make their own decisions about whether to fulfill” Immigration & Customs Enforcement detainers – i.e., temporary holds that federal immigration authorities may place on municipal prisoners who are suspected of being eligible for deportation.
Harris again demonstrated her low regard for immigration law after an illegal alien named Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez – a convicted felon who had been previously deported from the United States on five separate occasions – was released from a San Francisco prison in April 2015 and subsequently murdered an innocent young woman named Kathryn Steinle. Harris said she supported Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi’s decision – which was made in accordance with the city’s sanctuary policies – to set Lopez-Sanchez free rather than turn him over to immigration authorities. “I trust and believe in the ability of local sheriffs to make a decision about what’s in the best interest of his or her community in terms of local safety,” said Harris.
In September 2015, Harris spoke out in support of the nuclear deal that the Obama administration and the leaders of five additional nations had negotiated with the government of Iran. While acknowledging that “this is by no means a perfect compromise,” Harris called it “the best available option for blocking Iran from developing nuclear weapons capability and to avoid potentially disastrous military conflict in the Middle East.”
In 2015 as well, Harris launched an investigation of journalist/anti-abortion activist David Daleiden, who had recently made headlines by releasing undercover videos demonstrating that Planned Parenthood routinely violated federal law by collecting and selling fetal tissue and body parts. As National Review reports: “The basis for investigating Daleiden was his appearing to have used a fake California driver’s license to hide his identity from Planned Parenthood, and the suspicion that he violated Planned Parenthood’s privacy. Those trivial allegations were enough for Harris to have eleven police officers raid Daleiden’s house, confiscate his computers and hard drives, some private documents, and all the yet-unreleased Planned Parenthood footage Daleiden had shot over two years. When Daleiden called his lawyer, Harris’s raiders tried to confiscate his phone too.”
The following year, when Harris, a Democrat, ran for the U.S. Senate seat that was being vacated by the retiring Barbara Boxer, Harris’s campaign website featured a petition to “protect” Planned Parenthood and “the important work it does.” Over the course of the 2016 election cycle, Planned Parenthood and its affiliates and employees contributed at least $30,000 to the Harris campaign. Other pro-abortion groups and their affiliates donated at least $50,000 more.
In 2016 as well, Harris was one of 17 Attorneys General (16 Democrats and 1 Independent) who joined “AGs United for Clean Power” (AGUCP), a group launched by former Vice President Al Gore. AGUCP’s objective was to file criminal fraud charges against fossil-fuel companies (and their supporters) that failed to explicitly endorse the notion that greenhouse-gas emissions associated with human industrial activity are chiefly responsible for potentially catastrophic “climate change.” Harris and New York AG Eric Schneiderman, for instance, initiated separate investigations into ExxonMobil for allegedly funding research that questioned the veracity of anthropogenic climate-change orthodoxy — and for purportedly concealing the truth about climate change from their shareholders and the general public.1 That same year, Harris’s Senate campaign website vowed that Harris, if elected, would “stand up to the climate-change deniers and fight to pass national climate-change legislation that promotes innovation like establishing a carbon tax or creating a cap-and-trade market for carbon pollution.”
Also on her campaign website, Harris pledged to “make the minimum wage a living wage and tie it to inflation”; “support President Obama‘s “plan for making community colleges free”; support “expanding access to Head Start [and] Early Head Start, and creating national universal pre-kindergarten”; “make it a priority to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act,” legislation rooted in the premise that “women earn about 21 percent less than men”; strive to “en[d] [mass incarceration]” by “roll[ing] back draconian sentencing laws for nonviolent drug offenses”; “fight to end federal bans on student loans, food stamps, housing, and voting rights for ex-offenders”; “stop voter suppression” measures like Voter ID laws; and “expand early voting so everyone has ample opportunity to vote.” The website further stated that “everyone should have access to public education, public health, and public safety regardless of their immigration status”; that Harris would “fight for comprehensive immigration reform that creates a fair pathway to citizenship” for America’s “11 million undocumented immigrants”;2 that she would “protect President Obama’s immigration executive actions,” which shielded several million illegals from deportation; and that the U.S. had a duty to “responsibly resettle refugees” from war-torn, terrorism-infested nations around the world.
Harris defeated Orange County Rep. Loretta Sanchez by a margin of 23 percentage points in a June 2016 Democratic primary race, and subsequently became a U.S. Senator when she ran unopposed by any Republican in the November general election.
Over the years, Harris has cultivated a close political and ideological kinship with California Congresswoman Maxine Waters, whose federal campaign committee, Citizens for Waters (CfW), since 2006 has accepted fees from political candidates wishing to be featured in CfW mailers and to gain Waters’ endorsement. In 2010, Harris paid $28,000 to Waters’ campaign committee in order to appear on the CfW mailers during her bid for the post of California Attorney General. And when Harris ran for the U.S. Senate in 2016, she gave CfW another $30,000 in order to appear on the mailers.
In a series of tweets which she posted on January 27, 2017 — International Holocaust Memorial Day — Harris compared Jews escaping Nazi genocide during the Third Reich, to modern-day Muslims from terrorism-connected countries in the Middle East seeking refuge in the United States. She also used the occasion to condemn President Donald Trump’s then-recent executive order declaring a temporary moratorium on travel to the U.S. by people from a small handful of such terror-tied nations — nations whose residents’ ability to enter the United States had likewise been subjected to restrictions by Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama. Tweeted Harris:
- “On #HolocaustMemorialDay, Trump restricted refugees from Muslim-majority countries. Make no mistake — this is a Muslim ban.”
- “We can’t turn our backs on the millions of refugees who are contributing to our country and our economy.”
- “During the Holocaust, we failed to let refugees like Anne Frank into our country. We can’t let history repeat itself.”
When President Donald Trump nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court in March 2017, Harris tweet: “Judge Gorsuch has consistently valued legalisms over real lives. I won’t support his nomination.” As the American Thinker pointed out: “'[L]egalisms’ (aka what the law actually says) are the very basis of the rule of law. When [Harris] touts ‘real lives,’ [and] not the law, as the proper basis for SCOTUS rulings, she openly endorses a political system based on favoritism, not the rule of law.”
When President Trump in June 2017 announced his intention to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement, Harris said that Trump’s “disastrous decision” would have “catastrophic repercussions for our planet’s future,” and would “threate[n] the world our children and children’s children will live in.”
At a Netroots Nation conference in August 2018, Harris charged that critics of “identity politics” were employing that term to disparage the notion that issues of race, gender and sexual orientation were worthy of public concern. “I have a problem, guys, with that phrase, ‘identity politics,’” said the senator. “Because let’s be clear, when people say that, it’s a pejorative. That phrase is used to divide, and it is used to distract. Its purpose is to minimize and marginalize issues that impact all of us. It is used to try and shut us up…. These issues that they’re trying to diminish and demean are the very issues that will define our identity as Americans.” “We’ve all heard how critical black women were to Doug Jones’ victory,” Harris said of the Democrat who had won a 2017 special election to determine who would fill the U.S. Senate seat recently vacated by Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama). “But that didn’t just magically happen. It happened because black women have been putting in the work, going door to door, organizing even when the cameras were focused elsewhere.”
In November 2018, Harris asked Ronald Vitiello, whom President Trump had nominated to head the the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, if he believed that the public’s perception of ICE was creating fear and distrust in a manner similar to how the KKK had done in the 20th century. “Are you aware of the perception of many about how the power and the discretion at ICE is being used to enforce the laws and do you see any parallels …?” asked Harris. At that point, Vitiello interjected: “I do not see any parallels. That puts ICE in the same category as the KKK….” A moment later, Harris asked: “Are you aware that there is a perception that ICE is administering its power in a way that is causing fear and intimidation, particularly among immigrants and specifically among immigrants coming from Mexico and Central America?”
For an overview of Harris’s voting record on a variety of key issues, click here.
For additional information on Kamala Harris, click here.
1 As the Heritage Foundation explains: “Government prosecutors and the other participants in the crusade against ExxonMobil and the think tanks, researchers, scientists, and policy makers in the climate change debate argue the First Amendment does not protect the supposedly fraudulent conduct of those who ‘deny’ that catastrophic climate change is occurring and that man is the chief culprit for this problem.”
2 In April 2017, Harris tweeted that “an undocumented immigrant is not a criminal.”