Pamela Karlan caused quite the backlash when she mentioned Barron Trump while testifying at the House impeachment inquiry on Dec. 4. Here are five things you should know about her.
Pamela Karlan, 60, who is a professor of law at Stanford Law School, took the stand to testify in the highly publicized impeachment hearings on Dec. 4 and caused quite the uproar when she mentioned President Donald Trump‘s son Barron, 13, to make a point. The scholar brought up the minor’s name when trying to give an example of how Trump can’t do “anything he wants” no matter how powerful he acts because of what is stated in the Constitution. “Contrary to what President Trump has said, Article 2 [of the Constitution] does not give him the power to do anything he wants,” she said in the testimony. “The Constitution says there can be no titles of nobility, so while the president can name his son Barron, he can’t make him a baron.”
The wisecrack comment brought on a lot of criticism from Trump supporters, including Barron’s mother, First Lady Melania Trump, 49. The protective parent took to Twitter to post a rare tweet to express her negative opinion over Karlan’s comment and stand up for her son. “A minor child deserves privacy and should be kept out of politics. Pamela Karlan, you should be ashamed of your very angry and obviously biased public pandering, and using a child to do it,” the tweet read.
Karlan later apologized for the comment during her testimony but also insinuated that she thinks the president has done some unforgivable things as well. “I want to apologize for what I said earlier about the president’s son. It was wrong of me to do that,” she said. “I wish the president would apologize, obviously, for the things that he has done that’s wrong but I do regret having said that.”
Here are five things you should know about the professor who got Melania’s attention.
1.) She was almost nominated to be part of the Supreme Court. Many supporters considered her the Antonia Scalia of the left and she was one of the frontrunners to be considered for the highest court in 2009, but ultimately didn’t make the cut. President Barack Obama instead selected two federal appeals judges, including Sonia Sotomayor of New York, who was the one eventually chosen, and Diane P. Wood of Chicago, as well as two members of his administration, Solicitor General Elena Kagan and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
2.) She is a bisexual and an advocate for gay rights and voting rights. “It’s no secret at all that I’m counted among the LGBT crowd” Karlan told Politico in 2009. Since then, it has been revealed her partner is writer Viola Canales. She was also appointed to serve as the U.S. Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Voting Rights in the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division by the Obama Administration in 2013.
3.) Before her work as a teacher at Stanford, she taught at the University of Virginia School of Law. Her stint in Virginia lasted from 1988 until 1998 and it led her to win the All-University Outstanding Teaching Award in 1995 and 1996 and the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia’s Outstanding Faculty Award in 1997.
4.) Her criticism of Trump goes as far back as the 2016 presidential election. In Dec. 2016, she was one of many scholars who signed a letter expressing concern over Trump’s statements and actions during the election. She also criticized Trump’s actions in 2017, when he asked former FBI director James Comey to shut down a federal investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. “Right now this is a president behaving extraordinarily badly,” she told the BBC at the time. “But if it becomes clear that the president is trying to obstruct justice and Congress does nothing, that moves us towards a constitutional crisis. If Congress cannot fulfill its role as a check on the president, that’s a real problem.”
5.) She is the author of several books. Some of them include A Constitution for All Times, which was published in 2013, and The Law of Democracy: Legal Structure of the Political Process, which she co-wrote with fellow professors Samuel Issacharoff, Richard Pildes, and Nathaniel Persily, in 2016.