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.

 


 

Protections for Home Care Workers: Ending An Unjust Legacy

By Ariela Migdal, ACLU Women's Rights Project & Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 4:31pm
"Year in and year out, Evelyn Coke left her Queens house early to go to the homes of elderly, sick, often dying people. She bathed them, cooked for them, helped them dress and monitored their medications. She sometimes worked three consecutive 24-hour shifts. She sometimes worked 70 hours a week. She loved the work, but she earned only around $7 an hour and got no overtime pay…”
Protecting the Right to Vote: A Moral Imperative

Protecting the Right to Vote: A Moral Imperative

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 12:57pm

In response to voter suppression laws passed across the country, Attorney General Eric Holder said he is committed to protecting all Americans’ right to vote.

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.…

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…

A Sad Day for Equal Pay, But Not the End

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 1:37pm

In a disappointing stand against women's equality, on Wednesday the Senate voted 58-41 against cloture for the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 3772), stopping the bill from moving forward and effectively denying women the necessary legal tools to fight…

Supreme Court Put a Dagger in the Heart of the Voting Rights Act

Supreme Court Put a Dagger in the Heart of the Voting Rights Act

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Laughlin McDonald, Voting Rights Project at 1:54pm

While the 15th Amendment was adopted in 1870 and prohibited denial of the right to vote on account of race or color, in reality, many African-Americans were only able to vote within recent memory -- less than 50 years ago, with the passage of the Voting…

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…

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…

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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