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.

 


 

"Our Journey is Not Complete" – Equal Pay Requires Passage of Paycheck Fairness Act

"Our Journey is Not Complete" – Equal Pay Requires Passage of Paycheck Fairness Act

By Cynthia Bell, ACLU & Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:31am

In the 50 years since President John Kennedy signed into law the Equal Pay Act of 1963, wages for women still do not equal those of men...

Making School a Safe Place for All Students

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:35am

In 19 states across the country, corporal punishment in schools is still legal. Sadly, in many states, children are better protected against physical discipline in detention facilities than they are in their own classrooms. That fact is a startling…

The Equal Pay Act: You've Come a Long Way, Baby (But Not All the Way)

The Equal Pay Act: You've Come a Long Way, Baby (But Not All the Way)

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Georgeanne M. Usova, Washington Legislative Office at 10:43am

In 1963, we could have only dreamed of a woman with a realistic shot at the White House, or a female Speaker of the House or Secretary of State. There were no women heading Fortune 500 companies, jetting into space, or sitting on the Supreme Court.…

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…

Equality in Our Pay Envelopes

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 5:47pm

Today marks the 46th anniversary of President Kennedy's signing of the Equal Pay Act of 1963. That historic act signified our nation's commitment to ensuring that women are not paid less than men for equal work. Upon signing the bill, President…

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…

The Supreme Court Limits Our Employment Rights...Again

The Supreme Court Limits Our Employment Rights...Again

By Christina Black, Women's Rights Project, ACLU & Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 3:04pm

In a high-profile few weeks of wins and losses at the Supreme Court, there are two end-of-term opinions that will make it more difficult for workers to sue employers who discriminate against them, which may have gotten a bit lost in the shuffle. One…

Groundbreaking Senate Hearing Shines a Light on the School-to-Prison Pipeline

Groundbreaking Senate Hearing Shines a Light on the School-to-Prison Pipeline

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Kimberly Humphrey, Washington Legislative Office at 10:23am

Tomorrow, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights will hold a landmark hearing entitled, Ending the School-to-Prison Pipeline. It is the first time a congressional panel will look at this disturbing…

The Paycheck Fairness Act:  It's Time to Stop the Catch 22

The Paycheck Fairness Act: It's Time to Stop the Catch 22

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Georgeanne M. Usova, Washington Legislative Office at 11:16am

Last week, Terri Kelly testified before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee about pay discrimination. In her nine year career as a pharmaceutical sales rep, Kelly was extremely successful—one of the best-performing reps in…

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…

Statistics image