Indian-American lawyer Vanita Gupta to lead its civil rights division
The US justice department has appointed Indian-American lawyer Vanita Gupta to lead its civil rights division that is charged with implementing laws which preclude discrimination and other unjust exercises in education, employment and housing.
According to an official statement from The Department of Justice (DoJ), Ms. Gupta would take on the responsibility of Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and Acting Assistant Attorney General from October 20 at the division. She would succeed Molly Moran, who will be appointed as Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General.
Attorney General Eric Holder, announcing her appointment, said “Vanita has spent her entire career working to ensure that our nation lives up to its promise of equal justice for all”.
Gupta was born to immigrant parents in the Philadelphia region. She was conferred from Yale University a BA, magna cum laude. She received JD from the New York University School of Law. As a lawyer, she began her career with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Since 2008 at New York University School of Law, she has also taught civil rights litigation and advocacy clinics.
Before joining the justice department, she had been the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union. She also served as the director of its Center for Justice. Earlier, she served as an attorney for the Racial Justice Program of the same institution. Gupta, through her collaboration with the ACLU, has been involved in reform initiatives throughout the nation concerning criminal law, drug policy, sentencing and federal and state policing.
In recent days, her work has concentrated on creating a bipartisan unanimity to end over-dependence on incarceration.
When Gupta was finishing high school in 1992, her paternal grandmother who was 71 years at the time was murdered during a robbery at the home. The experience seemed to give her deep sympathy to victims of crime, and Gupta later wrote that the murder has not been solved and that “…the anguish it caused my family will never fade away.” This possibly also shaped her perspectives on the U.S. criminal justice system which according to her has focused too often “…on vengeance and punishment and racial suspicion rather than on crime prevention.”
“Vanita Gupta is the ideal choice to head the Civil Rights Division…” said Suman Raghunathan, the Executive Director of SAALT “….given her vast experience and stellar reputation in the civil rights community”. Eric Holder, Attorney-General, also remarked that Gupta had spent her whole career in ensuring that America lives up to the promise of providing everyone with equal justice.