A Political Puzzle: The Controversies over Vice President Kamala Harris


“Kamala Harris” by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Eloise Gordon

After four years under president Donald Trump, myself and millions of other Americans were excited for a new administration. I often turned on the TV and found myself angry and saddened by news of the White House. Grief and shame made me so desperate for new leaders that I was able to ignore the comments of dislike for current vice president Kamala Harris. 


I disregarded accusations against Harris for putting a transgender identifying female into a male prison. So too, I ignored that Harris declined to support two ballot initiatives that would’ve banned the death penalty. During Trump’s term, I would get furious when hearing people say “he’s our president just support him” or “just get over it, those things he did in the past don’t matter anymore.” Hypocritically, those comments represented exactly how I felt when I saw comments of dislike towards Kamala Harris. When I heard controversies about our Vice President mentioned on a Zoom call, I knew that I finally had to stop pushing this topic away and start facing the facts, sad as they may be. 


I first learned of controversies and complaints towards Harris when she was California’s attorney general. One of her most controversial and spoken about decisions was one where many claim she put a transgender female into a male prison. Michelle Norsworthy is the person involved in this prison controversy. While Harris was not solely in charge of deciding this case, she did contribute to the decision allowing the state to deny giving Michelle Norsworthy medically necessary surgery for her diagnosed gender dysphoria. When she was asked about it after being announced as the 2020 vice presidential nominee, Harris said, “There are unfortunately situations that occurred where my clients took positions that were contrary to my beliefs, And it was an office with a lot of people who would do the work on a daily basis, and do I wish that sometimes they would have personally consulted me before they wrote the things that they wrote?, Yes I do.’ Ultimately, Harris said she takes responsibility for the litigation approach of her office because she was responsible as California attorney general.” Kamala Harris has admitted and taken responsibility for a wrong decision she made in the past but she also highlighted that her office had a big responsibility in the outcome of Norsworthy. 


One of her most controversial and spoken about decisions was to disclose information during a crime lab scandal that resulted in the dismissal of about 1,000 drug-related cases. In a drug testing crime lab in San Francisco, the lab technician was found to have systematically mishandled the drug samples seized from suspects, even consuming some herself. Many people argue that Harris and her staff withheld information that if presented earlier could have prevented the dismissal of one thousand cases, one of which could have taken a man off death row. Kamala Harris argues that she found out about the crime at the same time of the public. To this day, we are unaware about when Harris found out about the crime lab. 


The reality is, these are just two of hundreds of controversial decisions that Kamala Harris has made. Every time I went to research one of Harris’s controversial decisions, hundreds of others would pop up on google. However, Harris is not the only politician who has made controversial political decisions. In fact, Harris is one of thousands. While it was originally difficult to begin research on some of the controversies and rumors surrounding Harris, I am glad I did despite the fact that I found out about some choices Harris made that I disagree with. This experience made me realize that just because a politician is controversial, they are not necessarily a bad politician. In fact, a lot of the time if a politician is making controversial decisions it means that they are staying involved, engaged and impactful. Regardless, It is important to be consistently researching politicians in the news and the media and staying informed, refusing to allow bias – especially from the newsource you’re reading – to get in the way.