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.

 


 

Leaving Women Out in the Cold

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:02am
This week, the ACLU called on Baltimore City to stop leaving women out in the cold. Literally. When the city’s only emergency homeless shelter is full, it provides “overflow” shelter beds to men — and not women. Turned away, single women seeking shelter have been left to fend for themselves, sleeping in parking lots and backyards, where they face exposure to the elements and have fallen victim to physical and sexual assaults.

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…

Fundamental Injustice: Voter Suppression Threatens Democracy

Fundamental Injustice: Voter Suppression Threatens Democracy

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Georgeanne M. Usova, Washington Legislative Office at 2:28pm

Sen. Dick Durbin calls the recent rash of state voter suppression efforts, "a threat to our democracy." Yesterday he held a hearing on this disturbing trend at which the ACLU submitted a statement for the record.

In recent months,…

Turning a Blind Eye: The Human Rights Crisis in Puerto Rico

Turning a Blind Eye: The Human Rights Crisis in Puerto Rico

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 12:26pm

Today, there are American citizens who are being assaulted by police during peaceful protests, but you likely have heard very little about it. The Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD), the second largest police department in the country, is out…

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.…

A Crisis Averted?

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 3:12pm

Today, April 12, 2011, is Equal Pay Day – the day into 2011 that a woman has to work, on average, to make the same as a man did in just 2010 alone. As I write on this year’s Equal Pay Day, I cannot help but reflect on the fact that only…

New White House Report Reaffirms Need for Paycheck Fairness Act

New White House Report Reaffirms Need for Paycheck Fairness Act

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Georgeanne M. Usova, Washington Legislative Office at 5:19pm

Last week, the White House Council on Women and Girls released a landmark report on the state of women in the U.S. that has been called the most comprehensive report of its kind in nearly five decades. Women in America: Indicators of Social and…

The Whole Constitution — Without Holes

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Joanne Lin, Washington Legislative Office at 1:56pm

Clashing perceptions of our Constitution last week led to dissonant messages about the importance of defending our founding charter. The new 112th Congress kicked off the session with a reading of the document in the House of Representatives,…

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…

Time's Running Out to Pass the Paycheck Fairness Act -- Contact Your Senator Today!

Time's Running Out to Pass the Paycheck Fairness Act -- Contact Your Senator Today!

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 2:40pm

Call, email and tweet your senator today. As the clock ticks down in the 111th Congress, there is little time left to finish critical pieces of legislation.

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