Pollak: Kamala Harris Could Become First Supreme Court Justice to Have Failed Bar Exam
Vice President Kamala Harris could be the first Supreme Court Justice to have failed the Bar exam — that is, if rumors that President Joe Biden may nominate her to the nation’s highest court are true.
For the past several days, speculation has been building that Biden might dispense with the unpopular Harris by “promoting” her to the Supreme Court, to which he has promised to nominate black female justices. He would then replace her with another vice president, possibly Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, assuming that he could pass a majority vote of both houses of Congress, as required.
If she is, in fact, nominated and confirmed, Harris would likely be the first Justice to have failed the Bar exam, the entrance exam to the practice of law.
California’s exam is notoriously difficult, and Harris would not be the first prominent person to fail the Bar, but it would be unusual for someone nominated to the Supreme Court to have stumbled at the first legal hurdle. (In contrast, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, the newest on the Court, graduated first in her law school class at Notre Dame.)
The issue of Harris’s Bar exam failure has come up before, and has been confirmed by fact-checkers, such as USA Today. The New York Times noted, parenthetically, in an otherwise upbeat 2016 profile: “She failed the bar exam the first time she took it. Harris says she recently consoled a young law graduate who also didn’t pass; ‘I told her, it’s not a measure of your capacity.’”
Supreme Court legend Benjamin Cardozo was said to have failed the Bar exam, but that turned out to be an urban legend.