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.

 


 

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 of control, with a broken and inadequate system for investigating, or even recording, acts of severe police brutality — including lethal force — perpetrated against the communities it is meant to protect. While all of this is occurring in the public eye, none of it is making headlines.
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.

Waiting for Equality

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 2:07pm

In the winter of 1916–1917, suffragists took their ongoing battle to our nation’s capital, pressing the newly re-elected President Woodrow Wilson to grant women the most fundamental of all American rights — the right to vote. …

An Arcane, Destructive — and Still Legal — Practice

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 5:10pm

(Originally posted on Huffington Post.)

On June 29, 2010, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) introduced the "Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools Act," H.R. 5628. This bill would ban the use of corporal punishment in public schools…

Make Equal Pay Day Obsolete

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

Today, Equal Pay Day, marks how far women, on average, have to work into 2010 to be paid the same as men were paid in 2009. In other words, women have to work almost 16 months — nearly four months longer than men do — to make the same amount of…

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