Blog of Rights

Deborah J.
Vagins

Deborah Vagins is senior legislative counsel at the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. She leads the Washington Legislative Office’s civil rights advocacy efforts and develops pro-active strategies on pending federal legislation and executive branch actions concerning racial justice, education, employment discrimination, voting rights, and disability rights. Vagins has been instrumental in advocating for major civil rights legislation, including the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 and the 2006 Voting Rights Act reauthorization, among others..

 

Before joining the ACLU in 2005, Vagins served as the acting deputy general counsel and senior attorney-advisor to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Prior to that, Vagins was an associate at Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, where she litigated high-profile nationwide civil rights class actions. She represented more than 1.5 million women from Wal-Mart in the largest Title VII employment discrimination class action in history. She was also an associate at Sidley & Austin in the civil, criminal and constitutional litigation practice group and founded the firm’s Committee for the Recruitment and Retention of Women. Earlier Vagins worked at EMILY’s List and clerked at the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. Vagins graduated magna cum laude from the Washington College of Law at American University. She received her B.A. with distinction from Swarthmore College.

 


 

Let People Vote

The Democracy Restoration Act: Preventing a Lifetime Punishment

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Tyler Ray, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 3:52pm
Tayna Fogle is a mother of two, grandmother of six, a leader in her community, and a powerful example of how difficult it is for citizens to regain their voting rights.
Women who work full time still earn, on average, only $0.77 for ever $1 men earn

Equal Pay's Thrill of Victory and Agony of Defeat

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 11:14am

Four years ago, the Paycheck Fairness Act failed in the Senate. The bill, which would have helped close the pay gap between men and women by updating the Equal Pay Act of 1963, had majority support. But because a few senators blocked…

Equal Pay by the Numbers

Equal Pay by the Numbers

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 12:02pm

Over fifty after the passage of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Senate is poised to vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act, a much needed update to this law. While the Equal Pay Act was a historic piece of legislation that finally acknowledged that women…

Who's the Boss? Not Who You Think.

Who's the Boss? Not Who You Think.

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 2:58pm

Meet Tony and Angela.  Angela is a floor worker at a manufacturing plant and Tony is her shift supervisor. Tony’s boss, who works offsite, decides whom to hire or fire at this particular plant.  But Tony makes Angela’s schedule, gives…

The author with Representative John Lewis

The Time for Waiting is Gone

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 3:56pm

Recently, I had a meeting with Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.).  I was bringing some youth leaders to his office to discuss racial justice and education.  When we arrived, he starting telling us his story.  We were in awe.  It was a history…

Executive Action Needed to End Employment Discrimination

Executive Action Needed to End Employment Discrimination

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:27am

The following was originally published on MSNBC.com:

In his recent State of the Union address, President Obama promised to make 2014 a "year of action." The Obama's words offer reason for optimism, and he touched on a number of important civil…

Fulfilling the Promise of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

Fulfilling the Promise of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

By Lilly Ledbetter & Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 3:08pm

The following op-ed was originally published by Roll Call.

A little more than five years ago, after years of fighting for the rights of those demanding pay equality, we stood together at the White House watching President Barack Obama take…

Lilly Ledbetter: Celebrating a Champion Still Fighting for Us

Lilly Ledbetter: Celebrating a Champion Still Fighting for Us

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 11:07am

Five years ago today, I was honored to stand with Lilly Ledbetter at the White House as President Obama made the legislation bearing her name his first major bill signed into law.

As I said back in 2009:

With…

Restoring the Heartbeat of the Voting Rights Act

Restoring the Heartbeat of the Voting Rights Act

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Tyler Ray, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 3:18pm

Today, The Hill's Congress Blog posted a commentary on the importance of Congress improving and passing the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014. Below is an excerpt from the piece, and the full commentary is available here.

"When the Supreme…

Is Race Discrimination in School Discipline a Real Problem?

Is Race Discrimination in School Discipline a Real Problem?

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 4:04pm

The Department of Justice and Department of Education announced today what we have known to be true for a long time: yes, race discrimination in school discipline is a real problem.

At an event with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Attorney…

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