Biden’s VP choice expected—but not safe
Politics | Kamala Harris pushes the ticket farther left on abortion and religious liberty
by Harvest Prude
Posted 8/11/20, 08:03 pm
Joe Biden’s selection of Kamala Harris as his running mate makes the 2020 Democratic presidential ticket “the most pro-abortion in history,” the Susan B. Anthony List and March for Life said after Tuesday’s announcement.
Harris has held the titles of district attorney for the city of San Francisco and attorney general and now U.S. senator for the state of California, but she has the lesser-known distinction of being the defendant in a lawsuit brought by pro-life activists from the Center for Medical Progress.
In May, David Daleiden and CMP sued Harris, Planned Parenthood, and current California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. The lawsuit alleges that Harris, while serving as attorney general, conspired with Planned Parenthood to violate Daleiden’s rights to free speech and equal protection under the law.
Daleiden argues that Harris singled him out for prosecution because his undercover videos found evidence that Planned Parenthood was profiting from the sale of body parts from aborted babies.
The Democratic establishment is calling Harris the safe choice for Biden, but unborn babies and religious Americans would hardly be secure if she ever became president.
If elected, Harris would become the first woman and first non-white person—she has Jamaican and Indian heritage—to hold the office of vice president. At age 55, she helps balance the Democratic ticket generationally, too. Biden, at 77, would be the oldest person elected president in U.S. history if he defeats President Donald Trump in November.
“She’s a woman of color, she’s got a law enforcement background,” said Henry Olsen, a senior fellow at the Ethics & Public Policy Center. “In the post–[George Floyd] era, she’s got a foot in both camps as far as law and order and racial justice.”
That law-and-order background has drawn criticism from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. While serving as a prosecutor in the district attorney’s office in Alameda County and San Francisco and as California’s attorney general, Harris defended the state’s death penalty and prosecuted many marijuana-related infractions, something that her fellow Democrats used against her in one of the debates she participated in before dropping out of the presidential race in December 2019. She also has endorsed several progressive proposals, including “Medicare for All.”
As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Harris gained attention with her antagonistic questioning of Brett Kavanaugh during his Supreme Court confirmation hearing. A few months later, she questioned a judicial nominee about whether his involvement in the Catholic service group Knights of Columbus would affect his impartiality on the bench.
During one of last year’s debates, she challenged Biden about his cooperation with Southern segregationists in the U.S. Senate. But Harris could not make a compelling case for why voters should pick her from the crowded field. Three months after she suspended her campaign, she endorsed Biden after his surge on Super Tuesday.
Ryan Burge, an assistant professor of political science at Eastern Illinois University, said he doubts the choice of Harris will significantly reshape the race: “I think Biden did the smart thing here in that he’s playing for boring. … She’s not without her controversies but they’re not overwhelming.”
He described Harris’ policies as to the left of Biden but not as far left as Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
Last year, Harris tweeted that the “freedom to worship” should “never be used to discriminate or undermine other Americans’ civil rights” in reference to religious employers’ ability to let their faith inform their hiring and firing decisions. She also supports repealing the Hyde Amendment, which keeps federal taxpayer dollars from paying for abortion.
The Trump campaign reacted to the news with a statement calling Harris’ selection “proof that Joe Biden is an empty shell being filled with the extreme agenda of the radicals on the left.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., continued that theme, saying Harris “wants to turn America into San Francisco. As her policy stances in Washington show, she would take away private health plans, make energy more expensive, and ‘reimagine policing.’”
Biden and Harris are expected to give speeches Wednesday in Wilmington, Del. Harris tweeted on Tuesday that she will “do what it takes to make [Biden] our Commander-in-Chief.”
Sign up for The Stew weekly newsletter.
Read more of The Stew Sign up for The Stew email
Harvest is a reporter for WORLD based in Washington, D.C.