Lawyer behind racist attack on Kamala Harris once billed NC $78K for anti-gay rights work

Sen. Kamala Harris

One supposes that it’s ultimately a somewhat hopeful sign that the sad world of right-wing zealots who promote racist tropes, homophobic fearmongering and kooky conspiracy theories while masquerading as responsible advocates is actually a pretty small one. Unfortunately, the downside to this situation is that every time you turn around, the same troubled souls keep popping up like critters on a state fair whack-a-mole machine.

Take attorney John Eastman…please.

Eastman is a former law clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas, a California law professor and “scholar” at a far right think tank known as the Claremont Institute with a penchant for giving voice to offensive positions on any number of issues.

In recent days, Eastman has turned up — in true bad penny fashion — as a proponent of the scurrilous and utterly bogus claim that U.S. Senator and presumptive Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris is somehow not a U.S. citizen. As Associated Press reported over the weekend, Newsweek magazine has apologized for publishing an essay by Eastman that advanced this “theory” based on the fact that Harris’ parents were immigrants to the U.S. — even though she was born in California:

“‘This op-ed is being used by some as a tool to perpetuate racism and xenophobia. We apologize,’ read Newsweek’s editor’s note on Friday, which replaced the magazine’s earlier detailed defense of the op-ed.”

The AP story continued by noting that the Eastman’s theory is utterly “false”:

“Harris, who was tapped by Joe Biden to serve as his running mate on the Democratic ticket, was born in Oakland, California, and is eligible for both the vice presidency and presidency under the constitutional requirements. The question is not even considered complex, according to constitutional lawyers.”

Prof. John Eastman — Image: Chapman University

And if you’re wondering why this Eastman character sounds vaguely familiar, it might just be because the state of North Carolina — or more particularly, its right-wing legislature — forked out a bunch of taxpayer cash a few years ago to have him parachute into the state to defend its indefensible anti-marriage equality stance. As the Asheboro Courier-Tribune reported in 2015 in a reprint of a Charlotte Observer story:

“Outside lawyers have billed the state of North Carolina more than $107,000 to appeal federal court rulings that have legalized gay marriage in the state, a cost the attorney general calls a waste and one that even some Republicans question.

The spending comes as the U.S. Supreme Court this week sent what many observers see as its clearest signal yet that it may recognize the constitutionality of all same-sex marriages.

Last October GOP legislative leaders agreed to hire outside counsel to defend the state’s amendment banning same-sex marriage after Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper refused, saying no arguments were left.

The state hired Charlotte attorney Bob Potter Jr. and California attorney John Eastman, director of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence at The Claremont Institute and chairman of the National Organization for Marriage.

Through January, Potter billed the state just over $29,000. The Claremont Institute invoiced $78,200.”

Isn’t it great to know that Berger and Tillis directed our taxpayer dollars to such an organization and a fellow that continues to do such outstanding work?

You can read more about Eastman and some of the hateful views he’s championed in this 2019 post from the Southern Poverty Law Center.

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