Democratic presidential candidate Joe BidenJoe BidenHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Trump finalizing executive order calling on police to use ‘force with compassion’ The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook MORE reportedly said in an interview nearly 40 years ago that he was against busing to racially integrate schools.
Biden made the comments in a 1981 CNN interview while voicing his support of efforts to limit the courts’ power to order busing, CNN’s KFILE reported Sunday.
The remarks resurfaced as Biden faces scrutiny over his record on race, an issue that ignited a contentious back-and-forth with Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisRand Paul introduces bill to end no-knock warrants The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook McEnany says Juneteenth is a very ‘meaningful’ day to Trump MORE (D-Calif.) during a 2020 Democratic primary debate last week. The heated exchange occurred after Harris voiced dismay over Biden’s opposition to busing to desegregate schools.
Biden responded by noting he was only against busing mandated by the Department of Education.
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The former vice president said in an interview on the CNN program “Newsmaker” in July 1981 that he happened to be “one of those so-called people that are labeled as a liberal on civil rights, but oppose busing.”
“And I support the effort to curtail the ability of courts to bus,” he said, before later adding, “What I have argued as one who grew up in the civil rights movement and ran for office as a public defender and a member of an active participant in civil rights cases, I have argued that the least effective remedy to be imposed is the busing remedy.”
Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bate said in a statement to CNN’s KFile that Biden has “always been an advocate for integration, but saw that the forced busing being discussed in these statements was not the right mechanism for achieving integration in Delaware because it put an undue burden on African-American families and children.”
Biden’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for further comment from The Hill. In its statement to CNN, Biden’s campaign justified Biden’s support of civil rights by listing the various actions he took as a public servant, which included passing an extension of the Voting Rights Act. CNN noted that Biden’s critical comments about busing came as the Senate deliberated on a measure to curtail the ability of the courts to enforce it. Following a filibuster from liberal senators, Biden reportedly voted to support the effort prohibit the court to impose busing to integrated schools. However, the bill died after opponents successfully delayed it, according to CNN. “On the issue that the argument is about and that is whether or not busing serves — is A, required constitutionally and B has a utilitarian value for desegregation. I come down on the side of A, it is not constitutionally required and B, it is not a useful tool,” Biden said in 1981, CNN reported. Harris last week used a personal story to criticize Biden’s past opposition to busing in what became the most dramatic moment of the first 2020 Democratic presidential debates. “There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools and she was bused to school every day,” Harris said at one point to Biden. “That little girl was me.” Biden called Harris’s criticism a “mischaracterization” of his views. He defended his views following the debate, saying on MSNBC Friday that he “supported busing to eliminate de jure segregation.”
“It should be about the future. It should be about what we’re going to do to deal with institutional racism. And it’s real,” he said. “We’re going at this backwards.”