Fact check: True claim about Harris failing bar exam on first try and Barrett's law school rank

Camille Caldera, USA TODAY
·3 min read

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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Sen. Kamala Harris highlighted the impact Barrett could have on a woman's right to an abortion on the second day of confirmation hearings.
Sen. Kamala Harris highlighted the impact Barrett could have on a woman's right to an abortion on the second day of confirmation hearings.

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:

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Claim about Harris, Barrett legal backgrounds is true