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.

 


 

18 More Cents...in 50 Years

18 More Cents...in 50 Years

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:58am
Over the last five decades, women have broken many barriers in education, business, and government. We need look no further than Congress to see the progress women have made: in 1963, Congress had only 14 women. In contrast, the new 113th Congress seated 97 women, the highest representation of women in United States history. The progress of women is also evident across the workforce. Today, women make up half of all workers in the United States and are increasingly becoming co- or primary breadwinners for their families.
Mr. President, Walk With Us On Our Journey for Equal Pay

Mr. President, Walk With Us On Our Journey for Equal Pay

By Georgeanne M. Usova, Washington Legislative Office & Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 3:16pm

Today, the ACLU joined over 100 organizations to send a letter to President Obama asking for executive action to combat pay discrimination.

For far too long, equal pay has been out of reach for many women as a result of workplace discrimination.…

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…

"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...

Federal Reforms Needed to Increase Voter Access

Federal Reforms Needed to Increase Voter Access

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Shawn Jain, Media Strategist, ACLU at 4:18pm

Tomorrow, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold an important hearing entitled, The State of the Right to Vote After the 2012 Election. The timing is ripe for the committee to consider the state of our most fundamental right as citizens.  Just…

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…

Who Really Won the Election?  Democracy Did.

Who Really Won the Election? Democracy Did.

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 4:00pm

On Tuesday, despite the massive hurdles put in front of voters since 2010 – citizens nonetheless, fought through voter suppression tactics, misinformation, long lines, then longer lies, and the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy to have their voices…

On the First Anniversary of Wal-Mart v. Dukes:  Stand Up or Be Trampled

On the First Anniversary of Wal-Mart v. Dukes: Stand Up or Be Trampled

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:27am
Image above: Betty Dukes with Senator Al Franken. The author, Deborah Vagins, to the immediate right, joined by coalition partners.

Over a decade ago, I had the great honor to be part of a team representing Betty Dukes, an employee at Wal-Mart who…

An Unhappy Anniversary for the Equal Pay Act

An Unhappy Anniversary for the Equal Pay Act

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 5:35pm

Yesterday, on a procedural vote, the U.S. Senate failed to reach the 60 votes needed for the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill intended to update the Equal Pay Act of 1963, to move forward. Unfortunately, the 52-47 vote means more delay for an already…

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…

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