Trailblazing Civil Rights Lawyer Vanita Gupta Narrowly Confirmed as Affiliate Lawyer Normal | World Indian

Indian-American activist Vanita Gupta, who headed the Justice Department’s civil rights division in the Obama administration, was narrowly confirmed as associate attorney general in a Senate vote between 51 and 49 on April 21.

Gupta is currently the President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. She will be the first Indian American to hold this role, the third highest position in the Justice Department.

President Joe Biden said in a tweet on April 21, “Congratulations to Vanita Gupta for becoming the first black woman to make history as Associate Attorney General.” He characterized her as a “highly trained, highly respected attorney” committed to promoting herself of racial justice and justice has prescribed “.

During her tenure as head of the Department of Civil Rights of the Justice Department in the Obama administration, Gupta broke new ground several times and campaigned for the rights of gays, lesbians and transgender people, among other things. In a landmark move in 2016, Gupta sent a letter to every public school in the country asking them to allow transgender students to use bathrooms that matched their gender identity. Gupta’s sister had come out as a lesbian while studying.

Under Gupta’s leadership, the Civil Rights Department also launched an investigation into local law enforcement agencies alleged to have used excessive force, discriminatory policing, and illegal stops and arrests.

Under her leadership, the department also prosecuted hate crimes and human trafficking, promoted the rights of people with disabilities and campaigned, among other things, to combat discrimination in the areas of education, housing and employment.

“We have done a lot of work to ensure that the most marginalized people have a voice and to make America a place of justice for all,” said Gupta India West in a 2017 interview. She accused former President Donald Trump and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions of undoing the progress made by the Civil Rights Department during their tenure. (See India West History here:

Gupta had previously gone through a tough confirmation hearing where Republican senators accused her of bias and picked up old tweets. In 2020, during the Republican Convention, Gupta tweeted, “I don’t know if I can hold out three more nights of racism, xenophobia, and outrageous lies.” She also punished Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine for voting to be the Colonel’s judge Court of Justice, Brett Kavanaugh, charged with sexual assault.

“Senator Collins is failing their voters and sending dangerous message to the survivors. That’s unbearable, “Gupta said in a tweet that can still be viewed on her Twitter feed.

Before the confirmatory vote, senators on both sides of the Ganges incriminated Gupta. Senate majority whip Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, said it was propitious that Gupta’s vote came the day after a jury found former Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murdering George Floyd by acting put his knee on the black’s neck for more than nine minutes.

“The reason I bring this up in the face of Vanita Gupta’s nomination is because the road to civil rights advancement in America is often difficult, and often solitary struggle for those who try.

“Anyone who’s on the news last week sees that we need police reform, we need to fix the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve. Vanita Gupta has been shown to do just that, ”Durbin said, noting that she brought civil rights activists, community leaders and police officers together.

Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky Senate Minority Chairman, said, “Ms. Gupta has spent most of her career as a leftist activist. Your work for high profile liberal pressure groups and the Obama Justice Department has left surprisingly radical positions. “

McConnell noted that Gupta had previously supported the decriminalization of all drugs and the de-funding of the police. “The White House must make better choices for this key post,” he said.

Sen. Cory Booker praised Gupta, called her a “patriot”, and noted that she had received support from several law enforcement groups. “She’s an honest broker, a fair actress who seeks justice. She is not a radical partisan. She has a heart and compassion for people that inspire me in my actions. “

“When a woman stands up and is strongly and defiantly committed to ideals that are not realized in reality, she will be attacked again and again. And then, God bless America, there is something about women of color that really seems to bring them outrageous attacks, ”Booker said, characterizing Gupta as a friend who inspires his own work.

Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski was the only Republican to vote for Gupta.

“I’ve looked at your files. I sat down with her extensively. I am not only impressed with her professional qualifications and the passion she carries with her in her work. “

“There are some statements she has made in a few other areas that I find, in fairness, troubling and worrying. But I will give the benefit of the doubt to a woman who I believe has shown through her professional career that she is deeply committed to issues of justice, ”Murkowski said.

Several civil rights organizations praised Gupta’s confirmation. Neil Makhija, executive director of the Indian American Impact Fund, said in a statement: “We are deeply proud of Vanita Gupta and know that she will be a steadfast advocate of all Americans, and marginalized communities in particular. At a time when we see attacks on our voting rights and an increase in hate crimes, our country needs a civil rights advocate like Vanita Gupta at the highest level in the Justice Department. “

The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association also congratulated Gupta. “Your term in office could not have come at a more crucial time for so many black and vulnerable populations, especially given the onslaught of anti-Asian hate crimes and biased attacks on our communities,” said AB Cruz III, President of NAPABA.

Gupta was born in Philadelphia and grew up in England and France before returning to the United States. She received her BA from Yale and her JD from NYU.

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