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.

 


 

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 average women had limited educational opportunities and very few career options, and in the jobs they had, on average, they still only made 60 cents on the dollar that men did.
John Conyers and MLK

The Civil Rights Act at 50: A Conversation with Rep. John Conyers

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 2:48pm

Listening to Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) speak is like having a real life history lesson. Mr. Conyers is the second-longest serving member of Congress, having been in office for nearly 50 years.  After participating in the March on Washington…

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.

Two decades ago, Tayna served a sentence for a non-violent drug offense…

"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...

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…

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…

ACLU and the Equal Pay Act of 1963: Celebrating 50 Years of Advocacy

ACLU and the Equal Pay Act of 1963: Celebrating 50 Years of Advocacy

By Tyler Ray, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 12:38pm

This June 10th, the ACLU will join organizations and individuals across the country to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, a landmark law that required equal pay for equal work for women for the first time. If…

Shelby, ITCA, and Congress' Role in Protecting Voting Rights

Shelby, ITCA, and Congress' Role in Protecting Voting Rights

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 5:22pm

Following a wave of voter suppression laws over the last few years, Texas passed a restrictive voter identification law, which unfairly burdened communities of color all across the state. The new law was rejected as discriminatory under the federal…

Counting On Us: Release of New Civil Rights Data Is the First Step in Helping Our Kids

Counting On Us: Release of New Civil Rights Data Is the First Step in Helping Our Kids

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 5:21pm

Every day, students in public schools across the country are facing harsh disciplinary measures that may have dire consequences for the rest of their lives.

That was confirmed this week when the Department of Education released Part Two…

Teach (and Treat) Our Children Well

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 1:19pm

(Originally posted on Huffington Post.)

As a society, we adhere to the basic premise that, in the proper setting, children will learn what they are taught. And it follows that in learning to become positive and involved adults, children need…

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