March 5, 2021

The Honorable Dick Durbin
Chair
Senate Committee on the Judiciary 224 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington, D.C., 20510

The Honorable Chuck Grassley Ranking Member
Senate Committee on the Judiciary 152 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington, D.C., 20510

Re: Gender Justice Sign-on Letter in Support of Vanita Gupta to be Associate Attorney General of the United States

Dear Chairman Durbin and Ranking Member Grassley:

We write on behalf of 58 gender justice; reproductive health, rights, and justice; and anti- violence organizations unified in strong support for the confirmation of Vanita Gupta as Associate Attorney General of the United States. The Associate Attorney General (ASG) is the third-ranking official at the Department of Justice who would advise and assist the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General. Because this role will have decision-making authority over matters that impact women, girls, and all people who face discrimination, including enforcement of Title VII, Title IX, the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE), and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), as well as core constitutional protections, such as the Equal Protection Clause and the right to privacy, it must be filled by a proven champion and ally on gender justice. With decades of civil rights and gender justice experience, Vanita Gupta is precisely the dedicated, highly qualified civil rights champion we need to defend the bedrock principles of equal justice and advance the core mission of the Department of Justice.

Vanita Gupta is exactly the leader we need at the Department of Justice. She is a seasoned civil rights attorney, who has held high-level roles in the Justice Department and prominent civil rights organizations. As the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Ms. Gupta leads the nation’s oldest, largest, and most diverse civil and human rights coalition to fight for equality and opportunity in the nation’s most pressing civil rights issues. When Ms. Gupta was Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division and Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, she oversaw a wide range of criminal and civil enforcement efforts including advancing policing and criminal justice reform; prosecuting hate crimes and human trafficking; promoting disability rights; protecting the rights of LGBTI individuals and combating discrimination in education, housing, employment, and lending and voting. Additionally, as Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU and Director of its Center for Justice, she worked on reform initiatives pertaining to federal and state policing, sentencing, drug policy and immigration detention facilities. Ms. Gupta’s understanding of the inner workings of the Department and the depth and breadth of her work in civil rights makes her the perfect candidate to address the dire situation in the Justice Department.

Ms. Gupta has built her career on championing civil rights for all people, and these values and principles are especially apparent through her work supporting the intersection of racial justice and gender justice. Under her direction, the Civil Rights Division broadened its pattern and practice litigation to better serve survivors of sexual violence and developed an advocate-informed guidance for improving law enforcement responses to sexual assault and domestic violence.1 Through her leadership, the Leadership Conference expanded its scope by joining amicus briefs and coordinating letters and comments supporting key gender justice issues such as blocking medically unnecessary and burdensome state restrictions on abortion care, safeguarding unions, preventing entities from using religion as an excuse for discriminating based on sex,  fortifying the Affordable Care Act protections, supporting equal pay, stopping rollbacks to Title IX, and opposing extremist anti-gender justice judicial and executive nominees. Ms. Gupta’s collaboration with diverse stakeholders better highlights the real-life effects the laws would have on the most disenfranchised and marginalized communities. And we are confident she will bring that intersectional approach to her leadership at the Department of Justice.

Vanita Gupta’s nomination as Associate Attorney General comes at a critical time. Over the past four years, the U.S. Department of Justice has utterly failed to fulfill its mission of protecting and enforcing the legal rights of all people in America and instead attacked Black and Brown communities and advanced deleterious civil rights positions outside the bounds of the constitution. It backed unconstitutional abortion restrictions and in a move decried by legal scholars and prior DOJ officials, argued that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional; rolled back longstanding protections for survivors of sexual violence; reversed course and encouraged discrimination in schools, workplaces, and health care; undermined and opposed LGBTQ equality efforts; challenged affirmative action programs; initiated the cruel and unjust policy separating immigrant children from their parents at the border; allowed rampant voter suppression; and otherwise weakened civil rights protections. The Department must prioritize undoing the harm and trauma over the past four years.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the reckoning on racial justice, the Department urgently needs to defend and protect individuals’ access to comprehensive health care, including abortion and birth control, prevent sexual violence and hate crimes, fight discrimination in schools, work, housing, and enhance voting rights and police accountability. We need Department of Justice leaders who are committed to ending discrimination; challenging white supremacy and hate violence; and advancing racial, gender, disability, ethnic, religious, immigrant, and LGBTQ justice. Now more than ever, these efforts must be led by an Associate Attorney General with a deep background in civil rights who will advance racial and gender equity and will repair trust in the Department of Justice’s ability to uphold the civil and constitutional rights and legal protections of all.

Ms. Gupta has the experience and the commitment to equal justice to restore the mission and vitality of the Department of Justice at this pivotal moment. Additionally, Ms. Gupta’s confirmation would be historic as she would be the first woman of color and first civil rights lawyer to hold this position. The leadership of the Biden-Harris administration should reflect the lived experiences of those most impacted by discrimination, racism, and unequal institutions, and Ms. Gupta’s nomination is an important step closer toward diversity and inclusion in the Department of Justice. We offer strong support for Vanita Gupta to be Associate Attorney General of the United States and urge the Committee to approve her nomination quickly.

Sincerely,

A Better Balance  
A Woman’s Choice of Jacksonville 
A Woman’s Choice of Raleigh 
A Woman’s Choice of Greensboro 
A Woman’s Choice of Charlotte 
Advocates for Youth 
All* Above All Action Fund 
American Association of University Women (AAUW) 
American Federation of Teachers 
California National Organization for Women 
Casa de Esperanza: National [email protected] Network 
Clearinghouse on Women’s Issues 
Cobalt 
Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault 
Feminist Majority Foundation 
Florida Interfaith Coalition for Reproductive Health and Justice 
Futures Without Violence 
Gender Justice 
Georgetown Center on Poverty & Inequality 
Girls for Gender Equity 
In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda 
Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault 
Jewish Women International (JWI) 
Justice for Migrant Women 
KWH Law Center for Social Justice and Change 
League of Women Voters of the United States 
Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault 
MomsRising 
Monroe County NOW 
NARAL Pro-Choice America 
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) 
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence 
National Council of Jewish Women 
National Crittenton 
National Organization for Women 
National Partnership for Women & Families 
National Women’s Law Center 
National Women’s Political Caucus 
Nebraska Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence 
Nevada Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence 
New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault 
NYC Alliance Against Sexual Assault 
Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence 
Ohio National Organization for Women 
Physicians for Reproductive Health  
Planned Parenthood Federation of America 
Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice 
Reproaction  
SisterLove Inc.  
TIME’S UP Now 
Ujima Inc., The National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community 
UltraViolet 
United State of Women 
URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity 
Vote Run Lead 
Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault 
Women’s Medical Fund 
YWCA USA 
Published On: March 8, 2021Associated Issues: Economic JusticeEducation & Title IX
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