ACLU Statement on Nomination of Vanita Gupta as Associate Attorney General

January 6, 2021 3:00 pm

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NEW YORK — In response to President-elect Joe Biden’s nomination of Vanita Gupta to the position of associate attorney general, American Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Anthony D. Romero issued the following statement:

“Vanita Gupta is an inspired choice for associate attorney general and signals that President-elect Biden truly wants to restore justice and equality to the workings of the Department of Justice. Under Attorney General Barr, the words ‘justice’ and ‘equality’ were mere fictions, existing only on walls, plaques, papers, and parchments at the headquarters building.

“Vanita cut her teeth as a line litigator at the ACLU, working to bring justice on behalf of her clients in Tulia, Texas. She was a once-in-a-generation leader — earning her first big promotion to deputy legal director, in which she oversaw all ACLU work on criminal justice reform. Leading the ACLU’s criminal justice docket, she was able to establish partnerships between the ACLU and the Koch brothers, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and law enforcement officials. That ability to broker impactful relationships across partisan and ideological divides caught the eye of Attorney General Holder and the rest is history.”

Gupta’s stewardship of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights during the Trump administration turned the Conference into a nerve center and hub for advocacy groups resisting the worst of the Trump agenda, including rollbacks of voting rights and attempts to strip immigrants from the U.S. census.

Romero added: “We at ACLU are proud that Vanita now carries the mantel of another famous ACLU alumna, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in defending and expanding civil liberties and civil rights at the highest levels of our government. Elections have consequences, and with Vanita Gupta as associate attorney general, the consequences are that justice and fairness for all will become DOJ’s mission once again.”

As a matter of organizational policy, the ACLU does not endorse or oppose nominees to political or judicial office. ACLU does provide analyses of its former leaders’ records and at times offers formal examinations of nominee’s records on civil liberties and civil rights. Ultimately, the Senate must scrutinize each nominee’s record as it discharges its advice-and-consent role. The ACLU will not lobby the Senate on behalf of any nominee.

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