Sep 6, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Harris rebukes Barr: "We do have two systems of justice in America"

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) pushed back on Attorney General Bill Barr's assertion on CNN that there are not two systems of justice in America, arguing that he and President Trump "are spending full time in a different reality."

Why it matters: The question of whether there is "systemic racism" in policing and criminal justice is a clear, dividing line between Democrats and the Trump administration.

The big picture: Barr last week called the idea that there is an "epidemic" of police shooting unarmed Black men "a false narrative." He acknowledged that there is a "widespread phenomenon" of Black men being treated with "extra suspicion" and "maybe not being given the benefit of the doubt" by police officers, but he denied that this is the product of "systemic racism."

  • Trump and other Cabinet officials have also dismissed the idea that systemic racism is a problem in the U.S., and the president refused to address the issue while visiting Kenosha, Wisconsin, last week.
  • Biden, meanwhile, has said that there is "absolutely" systemic racism in law enforcement and also "across the board," although he's maintained that the vast majority of police officers are good people.

What she's saying: "The reality of America today is what we have seen over generations and frankly since our inception, which is we do have two systems of justice in America," Harris said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday.

  • "But here is the thing that gives me a sense of optimism and a sense of belief in who we are as a nation. We also have an ideal that is inscribed in marble on the Supreme Court, that we all hold dear, which is that ideal of equal justice under law." 
  • "And that means doing what Joe Biden and I are proposing, which is having a criminal justice system that, yes, bans chokeholds and carotid holds, makes sure we are going to require accountability for police officers who break the rules and break the law ... but doing it all recognizing that there are huge disparities in our country based on race. It does us no good if we want to solve those disparities to pretend they don't exist."
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