National Law Journal posts, "First South Asian-American to Lead DOJ Civil Rights Division," by Katelyn Polantz.
Former American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Vanita Gupta will temporarily lead the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, the department said today.
Gupta will serve as acting assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division and principal deputy assistant attorney general. She steps into the role at a time when the department has zeroed in on civil rights issues with the ongoing tension in Ferguson, Mo., and when a number of department leadership positions, including Attorney General Eric Holder’s, are in transition.
Gupta is expected to be nominated for the position permanently in the coming months, a person familiar with the administration’s conversations told the NLJ. Gupta will then face the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“Even as she has done trailblazing work as a civil rights lawyer, Vanita is also known as a unifier and consensus builder. She has a knack for bridging differences and building coalitions to drive progress,” Holder said in a statement Wednesday.
The Guardian posts, "Obama to nominate Vanita Gupta to head DoJ civil rights division," by Ed Pilkington.
President Obama’s choice to head the civil rights division of the department of justice has been described as a “trailblazer” who has been at the forefront of the movement to end mass incarceration in the US, and has had almost unparalleled success in working across the aisle despite the partisan gridlock in Washington.
Vanita Gupta, 39, the deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, was appointed on Wednesday as temporary head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division, a role to which she is expected to be nominated by the end of the year.
Over more than a decade working on the front line of civil rights law, Gupta has proven herself to be a rare, if not unique, animal: a lawyer who is full-throated in her advocacy of progressive values yet has gained the respect and trust of conservatives, who would normally be considered her political enemies.
"Obama to nominate ACLU lawyer to lead Justice Department’s civil rights division," is by Sari Horwitz for the Washington Post.
Gupta, 39, who was born in the Philadelphia area to immigrant parents, has been praised by a wide array of political activists for her civil rights work, especially on prison reform, an issue on which liberals and conservatives have found common ground.
“In that zone, she’s been good to work with and a serious person,” Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, said in an interview. “She’s been open to working with conservatives on good policy. She has played a strong role in the left-right cooperation in criminal justice issues.”
David Keene, who was president of the National Rifle Association from 2011 to 2013, also praised Gupta’s “collaborative approach.”
“Vanita is a very good person,” he said in an interview. “I’ve worked with her on criminal justice reform issues. Most of the Obama administration people have been so ideologically driven that they won’t talk to people who disagree with them. Vanita is someone who works with everyone. She both listens to and works with people from all perspectives to accomplish real good.”
The Justice Department’s civil rights division has been without a permanent leader since its former head Tom Perez was confirmed as labor secretary in July 2013. Obama then nominated Debo Adegbile, a lawyer from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, to head the division.
The Los Angeles Times posts, "Obama to name ACLU lawyer to Justice Department civil rights unit," by Timothy M. Phelps.
Obama’s previous nominee for the civil rights job, Debo Adegbile, was rejected by the Senate in March after some Democrats joined Republicans in opposing his appointment because of his previous legal representation of a prisoner convicted of killing a policeman.
Gupta is also likely to run into opposition, though, unlike Adegbile, she has support from some prominent conservatives, including anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist and David Keene, former president of the National Rifle Assn.
Gupta, like Adegbile, is a former lawyer for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. At the ACLU, she rose to become deputy legal director. Former colleagues describe her as a “rock star” among civil rights and criminal justice lawyers. In her first case, she won pardons for 35 mostly African American defendants, whose convictions she showed were based on falsified evidence from a police officer.
Earlier coverage of the Department of Justice Office of Civil Rights begins at the link.