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.

 


 

Payckeck Fairness

Half a Century Later, Mad Men's Peggy Olson Is Still Waiting for Paycheck Fairness

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 12:14pm
Despite the popularity of the show “Mad Men,” we are no longer living in the 1960s, but the current gender wage gap doesn’t reflect that. Ongoing wage inequity should be a thing that’s in the past.
Is Race Discrimination in School Discipline a Real Problem?

Is Race Discrimination in School Discipline a Real Problem?

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 4:04pm

The Department of Justice and Department of Education announced today what we have known to be true for a long time: yes, race discrimination in school discipline is a real problem.

At an event with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Attorney…

Millions Severed From the Body Politic

Millions Severed From the Body Politic

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 2:43pm

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday march for voting rights and the passage of the Voting Rights Act.  In this historic year, as we work to strengthen and update the law that protects voters of color at the polls, it…

Fulfilling the Promise of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

Fulfilling the Promise of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

By Lilly Ledbetter & Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 3:08pm

The following op-ed was originally published by Roll Call.

A little more than five years ago, after years of fighting for the rights of those demanding pay equality, we stood together at the White House watching President Barack Obama take…

Women who work full time still earn, on average, only $0.77 for ever $1 men earn

Equal Pay's Thrill of Victory and Agony of Defeat

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 11:14am

Four years ago, the Paycheck Fairness Act failed in the Senate. The bill, which would have helped close the pay gap between men and women by updating the Equal Pay Act of 1963, had majority support. But because a few senators blocked…

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.…

Reflections From the Bridge: Where the Stain of Slavery and Segregation Met a Young Man's Courage and a Preacher's Dream

Reflections From the Bridge: Where the Stain of Slavery and Segregation Met a Young Man's Courage and a Preacher's Dream

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 4:42pm

On March 7 and 8, ACLU joined more than 80,000 Americans in Selma, Ala. to commemorate those who marched and risked their lives in Selma 50 years ago. Their bravery led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Being in this crowd commemorating…

Executive Action Needed to End Employment Discrimination

Executive Action Needed to End Employment Discrimination

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:27am

The following was originally published on MSNBC.com:

In his recent State of the Union address, President Obama promised to make 2014 a "year of action." The Obama's words offer reason for optimism, and he touched on a number of important civil…

Fifty Years Later, Fulfilling the Promise of Equal Pay

Fifty Years Later, Fulfilling the Promise of Equal Pay

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:33am

My mom graduated from a prestigious, small women's college in the 1950s with dreams of graduate school...

"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...

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