Broad Support Grows Ahead of Vanita Gupta’s Hearing for Justice Department

Broad Support Grows Ahead of Vanita Gupta’s Hearing for Justice Department

On March 9, the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on Vanita Gupta’s nomination to serve as the next associate attorney general at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)

WASHINGTON – On March 9, the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on Vanita Gupta’s nomination to serve as the next associate attorney general at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). She has spent her career fighting successfully for greater equity in the criminal legal system and advancing the rights and dignity of every person in America.  Her credibility precedes her, and as such, widespread support has poured in from civil and human rights organizations, law enforcement, conservative groups, and many others across the country.

 

“I’m not at all surprised by the widespread support Vanita has earned given her strong track record as a proven consensus builder,” said Wade Henderson, interim president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “She is a strategic problem solver who is committed to building greater trust between our communities and the police. The number of conservatives and law enforcement officials that are going to bat for her tells me that her ability to listen and seek consensus is appreciated by all of those who know and work with her. The Senate should swiftly confirm her.”

 

More than 100 civil and human rights organizations signed a letter urging the Senate to confirm Gupta and calling her “a fierce champion of civil rights” who “has devoted her career to advancing racial and social justice and equality for all.”

 

With a long list of endorsements from conservative leaders, as well as law enforcement, including the Americans for Tax Reform, Koch IndustriesMajor Cities Chiefs AssociationInternational Association of Chiefs of PoliceNational Organization of Black Law Enforcement ExecutivesHispanic American Police Command Officers AssociationPolice Executive Research Forum, and even the National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the Huffington Post’s Ryan J. Reilly showcased in great detail the broad support for Gupta that crosses partisan lines and other divides.

 

Patrick Yoes, the national president of the FOP: "The FOP has maintained an ongoing collaborative dialogue that reflected a working relationship with Ms. Gupta which began in 2014 when she took the leadership role in the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice," Yoes wrote.

 

He continued, mentioning that Gupta "was in regular contact with the FOP [during her time at DOJ under the Obama administration] on matters of mutual concern or interest" and said she "always worked with us to find common ground even when that seemed impossible.

 

"Although in some instances our disagreements remain, her open and candid approach has created a working relationship that is grounded in mutual respect and understanding.

 

"This extensive interaction with Ms. Gupta over a period of years informs our belief that, if confirmed as Associate Attorney General, she will continue her practice of working with us to find solutions."

 

Chuck Wexler executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum: When her nomination was announced, many of us were thrilled because she has a track record with law enforcement. She is supportive of what the police do. She gets what we do,” he continued.

 

Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus“Vanita has been incredibly responsive and fair to those of us in policing. She is one of the smartest and most innovative leaders in the criminal justice arena.”

 

Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian of Middlesex County, Massachusetts“[I’m] impressed with Vanita Gupta’s understanding of the issues facing our profession and her eagerness to partner with law enforcement leaders” working on solutions.

 

“Vanita understands that jails are often the largest mental health providers in their counties, and that’s simply unacceptable. I look forward to working with her and the Biden administration on innovative ways to construct a healthier and fairer criminal justice system.”

 

Sarah Guy, a senior advisor at the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP)“[Our] support for Ms. Gupta remains unchanged.” She continued, Gupta, “clearly demonstrated [a] deep understanding of, and continued support for, the policing profession.”

 

Grover Norquist, the founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform“I have come to know and respect Ms. Gupta through our common work on criminal justice reform. I have found her to be strongly qualified, effective, principled, and driven by a desire to seek common purpose and consensus,” he continued.

 

“While she and I certainly do not see eye to eye on many issues, she is nonetheless a leader who I trust will bring the same principled approach as the Associate Attorney General of the U.S. Department of Justice.”

 

Michael Chertoff, former secretary of homeland security, U.S. Court of Appeals judge, and DOJ veteranGupta has “a deep reverence for the Constitution and the rule of law,” and led “diverse cross-partisan coalitions to tackle voting rights, constitutional policing, and criminal justice reform.”

 

Mark Holden, the former general counsel and senior vice president of Koch IndustriesGupta is “a principled leader who seeks to find common ground and will work with anyone committed to making the system better and more effective.”

 

Trey Grayson, the former secretary of state in Kentucky and chair of the Republican Association of Secretaries of State: Gupta is “a detailed professional who was both impressive and extraordinarily easy to work with,” as well as being “balanced, measured, and fair-minded.”

 

“I believe members of the Senate ― many of whom I also personally know and deeply respect ― should similarly be pleased with the president’s nomination of Ms. Gupta.” He continued, “she has this Republican’s full and enthusiastic support.”

 

In a defense of Gupta’s distinguished track record as a champion of civil rights, The Washington Post’s Editorial Board cites the broad array of law enforcement groups’ positive reviews of her nomination, saying: “Vanita Gupta is among the nation’s most esteemed civil rights lawyers, revered by liberals for her decades of effective, levelheaded advocacy, and by many of the nation’s biggest police and law enforcement groups for her measured, constructive approach.”

 

In Roll Call, Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today highlighted the historic nature of Gupta's nomination, urging the Senate to confirm her on a bipartisan basis: "[A]s a consensus builder, Gupta has proved she can form partnerships across partisan divides, something she has done time and again in the context of police reform."

 

In a separate Washington Post opinion piece, columnist Jonathan Capehart, citing wide-ranging support from Koch Industries to chiefs of police and sheriffs, pointed out: “That Gupta would reach across the ideological divide to work on criminal justice with someone who worked for the Koch brothers tells me that she sought solutions and support from kindred spirits.”

 

Since then, Fox News reported that current and former police chiefs in more than 53 cities across the country sent a letter of support to the Senate Judiciary Committee praising Gupta for her leadership and record.

 

We know Ms. Gupta well," noting that she is "no stranger to police issues, having cut her teeth working on a police misconduct case as a young lawyer in Texas, and later leading the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice, where she undertook investigations for Ferguson, Cleveland, Baltimore, and Chicago police departments to ensure there was constitutional policing in those departments,” the letter reads.

 

The letter continues, stating that Gupta has "demonstrated a seriousness and willingness to understand the intense challenges, and even dangers, facing police officers with the intent of improving policing at large without degrading the overwhelming number of brave and honorable police officers.

 

"It is this solutions-oriented approach that we believe will serve Ms. Gupta extraordinarily well as Associate Attorney General," adding that they believe "local law enforcement always does well when there is a healthy partnership" with the Justice Department.

 

"We are confident that under Ms. Gupta’s leadership, the Justice Department will be a valuable partner to law enforcement organizations all throughout the country." The police chiefs then urged the Senate to quickly confirm Gupta.

 

Shortly after, The Hill reported that the National Sheriff’s Association – representing more than 3,000 sheriffs nationwide – penned a letter of support urging the Senate to swiftly confirm Gupta to the Justice Departments. In the letter, David Mahoney, Dane County sheriff, speaks highly of her ability to understand the toughest issues facing law enforcement, saying in part:

 

"I have known and worked with Ms. Gupta for several years, and have been extraordinarily impressed by her seriousness, her honesty, and her capacity to engage in fruitful and productive dialogue regarding policing and criminal justice.

 

"We have discussed common efforts in building trust, good will and mutual respect within our communities. Our discussions are always productive and filled with insight.

"I strongly believe that Ms. Gupta is exactly the type of leader who is needed in the Justice Department today," he added. "She possesses immense credibility among law enforcement leaders and community leaders. She is an effective communicator, a bridge-builder."

In another show of support for Gupta, Talking Points Memo cited a press call via Zoom that included a diverse group of individuals, ranging from members of Congress, to law enforcement, to civil rights and conservative advocates, who are all supporting Gupta’s nomination and urging the Senate to expeditiously confirm her nomination. Notably, Chief Art Acevedo stated during the press call:

Gupta is “a woman that is eminently qualified, who possesses the honesty and integrity, the intellect and the experience and relationships to do a very effective job for the American people.

 

“It gets a little old: elected officials stand for the blue, they back the blue, the thin blue line. “Well guess what? There is unanimous support from all the major law enforcement groups in this country,” he finished. 

 

That full press call recording is available here. Other speakers on the call stated the below:

 

Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), member of the Senate Judiciary Committee“From serving as the president of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights to leading the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice, Vanita Gupta has demonstrated a strong commitment to fighting for justice, equality, and accountability under the law throughout her career. Vanita has brought together advocates from across the political spectrum in her work to address some of our country’s most difficult and pressing challenges, and I’m grateful to the law enforcement, civil rights, and conservative leaders who joined this call to show their support of her nomination. I’m committed to working with my colleagues to swiftly confirm Vanita Gupta to serve as associate attorney general.”

 

Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.“I have known Vanita Gupta for 15 years. During that time, I have known her to be a lawyer and leader of unimpeachable integrity, strategic vision, and unwavering commitment to principles of equality and justice. Her historic nomination as the first woman of color and first civil rights lawyer to be selected for the role of associate attorney general, is surpassed only by her lengthy track record as one of the nation’s most visionary civil rights lawyers. Her approach to a range of issues from voting rights to police accountability are necessary ingredients for restoring the public’s faith in the Department of Justice. With Ms. Gupta as associate AG, we are hopeful that the department will soon return to its long-held commitment to enforce civil rights protections and ensure justice for all. We call on the Senate to confirm Ms. Gupta expeditiously.”

 

Janet Murguia, president and CEO UnidosUS“I am honored to express UnidosUS’ strong and unequivocal support of Vanita Gupta. She will bring her wealth of expertise, experience, and talent to the Justice Department at a time when our country sorely needs it. I have witnessed her credibility and integrity firsthand in our joint efforts to ensure voting rights for all Americans, greater diversity in our institutions, and combating hate and bigotry on social media and the internet. She deserves a swift Senate confirmation so she can get to work on behalf of all of us.”

 

Marc Levin, former director, Right on Crime: “Vanita may come from a different side of the political spectrum, but I’ve always found her interested in identifying areas where we can work together. I deeply respect the strength of her intellect and her longtime commitment to work to find common ground on solutions supported by evidence to deliver safety and justice for all. She is exactly the kind of public servant that would thrive as associate attorney general, and the Senate should confirm her.”

 

Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO, National Women’s Law Center“Vanita Gupta will be ready on day one to restore the missions and vitality of the Department of Justice and take on our country’s most pressing legal challenges. She understands how our country’s laws are lived, and the effects they have on the most disenfranchised and marginalized individuals and communities. It is time for us to unite behind people like Vanita who represent the best of us, working on behalf of a more just and equitable future for all of us. We give our full support and urge the Senate to confirm her quickly.”

 

Derrick Johnson, president and CEO, NAACP“The confirmation of Vanita Gupta is a pivotal moment for civil rights. Today, our Department of Justice must lead the country forward. How our nation heals and repairs the damage from the last four years will determine the direction of our democracy. In the top positions, we need the best the civil rights community has to offer. We have it in Vanita Gupta, one of the NAACP’s enduring friends and closest allies. DOJ’s essential mission is to do justice. No one understands that better than Vanita.”

 

Defending Democracy Together, a conservative organization, launched an ad campaign to highlight Gupta’s work with, and support from Republicans and law enforcement agencies. The site reads: “Vanita Gupta has earned the respect of Republicans and law enforcement officials as an ally in the fight for criminal justice reform. Now, she must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Associate Attorney General.”

 

RESOURCES:

  • The Leadership Conference and more than 100 organizations' letter of support for the confirmation of Vanita Gupta is available here.
  • A range of organizations have also submitted letters in support of Gupta; they are available here

 

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 220 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.