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Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman December 13, 2019

No, viral photo of woman in costume is not law professor Pamela Karlan

Viral posts circulating on social media claim that a photo of a woman in a vagina costume holding the sign "vagina lady" is Stanford law professor Pamela Karlan, who recently provided testimony in the impeachment proceedings of President Donald Trump. 

But there is no evidence that the woman is Karlan.

One Dec. 6 post, which has been shared over 2,400 times, displays the photo along with the caption: "This was the Democrats Constitutional Expert witness Stanford Professor Karlan."

(There have also been some posts that show another photo of a woman in a pink "pussyhat" who has also been misidentified as Karlan.)

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

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A reverse-image search led us to a Flickr page that posted the photograph in May 2007 as part of an album for the annual "Bay to Breakers" race held in San Francisco. The caption does not name the person in the photo, but reads, "One of two ladies in vagina costumes."

We reached out to race officials about whether Karlan’s name appeared on that year’s roster, but were told their registration data doesn’t go back that far. We searched news coverage of the event and found no mention of Karlan.

Karlan herself responded to PolitiFact in an email, and said she didn’t attend the race and the photograph is not of her.

We rate this False.

Our Sources

Facebook post, Dec. 6, 2019

PolitiFact, Should Trump be impeached? What law professors said at the House hearing, Dec. 4, 2019

TinEye, reverse-image search, Dec. 12, 2019

Flickr, Vagina lady photograph; Bay to Breakers 2007,  May 20, 2007

Run Guides, 2020 Bay to Breakers, Accessed Dec. 12, 2019 

FactCheck.org, Viral Photos Don’t Show Impeachment Expert, Dec. 11, 2019 

Associated Press, Photo does not show professor who testified in impeachment hearing, Dec. 6, 2019

Email interview, Bay to Breakers, Dec. 12, 2019

Email interview, professor Pamela Karlan co-director of the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic at Stanford University, Dec. 12, 2019

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No, viral photo of woman in costume is not law professor Pamela Karlan

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