The claim: Kamala Harris failed the bar exam on her first attempt, while Amy Coney Barrett graduated at the top of her law school class
Some of the most-watched moments from Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee were her exchanges with Sen. Kamala Harris.
One user took to Facebook to compare the qualifications of the conservative Supreme Court nominee and the Democratic vice presidential nominee.
“Kamala Harris failed the bar 1st time. Amy Coney Barrett 1st in her class,” the post read atop a background of laughter emojis. “I rest.”
The user behind the post did not respond to a request from USA TODAY for comment.
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Both facts are true
It’s true that Harris failed the bar exam on her first attempt, per the New York Times. She later passed.
The bar exam is the qualifying examination for lawyers to receive a license to practice law in a given state.
California has a notoriously difficult bar exam. In 1985, the Los Angeles Times wrote that its pass rate “has generally hovered around 50%.”
Harris graduated from the University of California-Hastings College of the Law in 1989.
Even now, the pass rate on the California Bar Examination averages out to approximately 50%.
In February, just 40% of “first-timers” passed, per a report by the State Bar of California. In July 2019, around 60% of “first-timers” passed, per another report.
Harris once told a recent law school grad who didn’t pass the test, “It’s not a measure of your capacity,” the New York Times also reported in 2016.
It’s also true that Barrett graduated at the top of her class at Notre Dame Law School, per Politico.
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Our rating: True
Based on our research, the claims about both Harris and Barrett are TRUE. Kamala Harris failed the bar exam on her first try, and Amy Coney Barrett graduated law school at the top of her class.
Our fact-check sources:
New York Times, May 25, 2016, Kamala Harris, a ‘Top Cop’ in the Era of Black Lives Matter
Los Angeles Times, Jan. 20, 1985, 41.8% Pass Rate Baffles Experts : Legal Profession Frets as Bar Exam Failures Soar
California Bar Association, General Statistics Report: February 2020 California Bar Examination
California Bar Association, General Statistics Report: July 2019 California Bar Examination
Politico, Sept. 20, ‘She’s been groomed for this moment’: Amy Barrett’s Supreme Court preparation began early
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Claim about Harris, Barrett legal backgrounds is true