Vanita Gupta

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Vanita Gupta
Vanita Gupta.jpg
United States Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division
Acting
In office
October 20, 2014 – January 20, 2017
Preceded by Molly J. Moran
Succeeded by Thomas E. Wheeler II
Personal details
Born 1974/1975 (age 41–42)[1]
Education Yale University (B.A.)
New York University (J.D.)

Vanita Gupta was the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and acting head of the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice until January 20, 2017. She was appointed to lead the division by Barack Obama in October 2014.[2] Formerly, she was a civil rights lawyer and the Deputy Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), where she oversaw the ACLU's national criminal justice reform efforts.[3] Prior to that, she was Assistant Counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF). Throughout her career, she has drawn support from a wide range of liberal and conservative activists, as well as law enforcement leaders, for building collaborative support and finding common ground on policing and criminal justice reform.[4][5]

Early life[edit]

Gupta was born in the Philadelphia area of Pennsylvania to Indian immigrant parents.[1] She is a graduate of Yale and New York University School of Law, graduating from law school in 2001.[6]

Tulia, Texas[edit]

Her first case, while working for the LDF directly after law school, involved 40 African Americans and 6 white or Latino people who were romantic partners of African Americans in Tulia, Texas, who had been convicted by an all-white jury on drug dealing charges.[7] In almost every case, the only evidence was the testimony of an undercover agent, Tom Coleman. Coleman did not use wiretaps, and records showed that he had "filed shoddy reports",[8] and had a previous misdemeanor charge for stealing gasoline from a county pump.[8] Gupta won the release of her clients in 2003, four years after they were jailed, then negotiated a $6 million settlement for those arrested.[7][9]

Hutto[edit]

In 2007, after becoming a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union, Gupta filed a lawsuit that was subsequently settled with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency on detention conditions for asylum seekers.[10] In August 2007, a landmark agreement was reached between ACLU and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, under which the conditions in the T. Don Hutto detention center improved and a number of children from the center were released.[10]

On August 6, 2009, the Department of Homeland Security announced intentions to improve the nation's immigration detention system, including ending family detention at the T. Don Hutto family detention center in Taylor, Texas.[11]

After her time as a staff attorney at the ACLU, she served as its Deputy Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union and Director of its Center for Justice.[12] She has been credited with pioneering the ACLU's National Campaign to End Mass Incarceration.[13]

Department of Justice[edit]

Under Gupta's leadership, the Civil Rights Division worked to advance criminal justice reform and constitutional policing, including by investigating and working to reform police departments in Ferguson, Missouri;[14][15] Cleveland; Baltimore and Chicago, among other cities. Gupta also oversaw a wide range of other enforcement efforts for the Division. This work included prosecuting hate crimes and human trafficking, promoting disability rights, protecting the rights of LGBT individuals and combating discrimination in education, employment, housing, lending and voting.[16][17]

Recent Justice Department cases[edit]

In 2016, under Gupta's leadership, the division sued North Carolina, alleging that the state's implementation of a law known as House Bill 2, or H.B. 2, discriminates against transgender individuals in violation of federal civil rights laws.[18]

In August 2016, Gupta announced the division's findings of its civil investigation into the Baltimore Police Department (BPD). The division found that BPD engages in a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the Constitution and federal statutory law, including unconstitutional stops, searches, and arrests; excessive force and enforcement strategies that produce an unjustified disparate impact on African-American residents.[19]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Obama to nominate ACLU lawyer to lead Justice Department's civil rights division". Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-05-14. 
  2. ^ Holder, Eric (14 Oct 2014). "Attorney General Holder Announces Vanita Gupta to Serve as Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division". United States Department of Justice. Retrieved 8 March 2015. 
  3. ^ "Biography of Vanita Gupta, The Huffington Post Blog Contributor". The Huffington Post. Retrieved November 19, 2010. 
  4. ^ Brookins, Freddie. "For Civil Rights Chief, Fighting For The Outsider Is Deeply Personal". NPR.org. Retrieved 2016-10-22. 
  5. ^ "Obama to nominate ACLU lawyer to lead Justice Department's civil rights division". Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-10-22. 
  6. ^ Lynda Richardson (April 16, 2003). "PUBLIC LIVES; Young Lawyer, Old Issue: Seeking Social Justice". The New York Times. Retrieved August 7, 2009. 
  7. ^ a b M. Chooki (December 17, 2004). "India Abroad Awards, Bhardwaj is 'India Abroad Person of the Year,' Gupta gets Special Award". News India-Times.com. Archived from the original on November 15, 2006. Retrieved August 7, 2009. 
  8. ^ a b Jim Yardley (August 29, 2002). "Texas Attorney General Opens An Inquiry Into '99 Drug Sweep". The New York Times. Retrieved August 7, 2009. 
  9. ^ Gupta, Vanita (2015-10-16). "Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta Delivers Remarks at Yale law School's Law and Inequality Conference". US Justice Department. Retrieved 2016-08-11. 
  10. ^ a b "Landmark Settlement Announced in Federal Lawsuit Challenging Conditions at Immigrant Detention Center in Texas". American Civil Liberties Union. August 27, 2007. Retrieved August 7, 2009. 
  11. ^ Aziz Haniffa (August 7, 2009). "Major victory for Indian American lawyer". Washington, DC: Rediff. Retrieved August 7, 2009. 
  12. ^ Holder, Eric (14 Oct 2014). "Attorney General Holder Announces Vanita Gupta to Serve as Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division". United States Department of Justice. Retrieved 8 March 2015. 
  13. ^ Rodriguez, Gina (August 1, 2015). "A Head with Heart | NYU Law Magazine". NYU Law Magazine. The People, 2015. Retrieved 2016-05-14. 
  14. ^ "A look at the DOJ's Ferguson Probe with head of the Civil Rights Division Vanita Gupta". politics.uchicago.edu. Retrieved 2016-05-14. 
  15. ^ Robertson, Campbell; Dewan, Shaila; Apuzzo, Matt (7 March 2015). "Ferguson Became Symbol, but Bias Knows No Border". New York Times Company. New York Times. Retrieved 8 March 2015. 
  16. ^ "About the Civil Rights Division". United States Department of Justice. Retrieved 30 June 2016. 
  17. ^ "Helping Schools Ensure the Civil Rights of Transgender Students | OPA | Department of Justice". US Department of Justice. May 13, 2016. Retrieved 2016-05-14. 
  18. ^ "Justice Department Files Complaint Against the State of North Carolina to Stop Discrimination Against Transgender Individuals". www.justice.gov. Retrieved 2016-08-18. 
  19. ^ "Justice Department Announces Findings of Investigation into Baltimore Police Department". www.justice.gov. Retrieved 2016-08-18.