People For the American Way

Vanita Gupta’s Fight Is Our Fight

Federal Update
Vanita Gupta’s Fight Is Our Fight
Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, March 9, 2021

Vanita Gupta is one of the country’s most renowned and effective civil rights advocates. She has dedicated her career to fighting for justice. On March 9, she appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee in a hearing regarding her nomination to serve as the next associate attorney general.

People For the American Way President Ben Jealous:

Vanita Gupta showed today why she is so eminently qualified to be confirmed as Associate Attorney General. For years, the far right has aimed attacks against women, people of color, and historically marginalized communities, and today she stood up to those attacks as Republican senators repeatedly distorted her record.

The criticism levelled at Ms. Gupta was rhetorical and repetitive. So-called “defunding the police” was of grave concern for Republicans on the committee, for example. Ms. Gupta was measured, consistent, and skillful in her responses. She made clear that what she supports is police accountability. She believes that individual bad actors and law enforcement as an institution must be held accountable, but also that there are certain situations in which police are ill-equipped to respond—that officers and community members alike would be better served by redirecting some resources to community support services, such as mental health providers. Accused of flip-flopping on drug policy, Ms. Gupta noted that her position is not blanket decriminalization but to treat America’s drug problem as twin crises in both public enforcement and public health, where in certain circumstances, much like her police reform position, criminal enforcement resources might be better used for drug treatment.

The Republican litany against Ms. Gupta also included political and big tech biases, religious liberty, litigation ethics, financial holdings, the environment, and more. She rose above their distortions and demonstrated time and again that she’s exactly who we need fighting for us at the Department of Justice.

Minority committee members, however, didn’t stop at policy distortions. It was a dismissive and disrespectful assault on a nominee poised to become the first woman of color in U.S. history to serve as associate attorney general and the first civil rights lawyer to serve in one of the top three DOJ leadership positions. Senator Ted Cruz repeatedly interrupted Ms. Gupta and at one point, as his time was expiring, accused her of lying with no opportunity for her to respond directly to him.

Vanita Gupta’s long and distinguished career and her appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee prove that she is more than qualified for the position of associate attorney general. We strongly urge the Senate to confirm Ms. Gupta. Her fight is our fight.


#HerFightOurFight, Civil Rights Division, criminal justice reform, drug policy, executive branch nominations, Fighting for Justice at the Justice Department, police reform, Vanita Gupta