Vanita Gupta is one of the most respected civil rights attorneys in the United States.
Vanita Gupta is a prominent civil rights attorney, who previously served as an acting assistant attorney general and head of the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice. Currently the president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights civil rights coalition, Gupta was nominated by President-elect Joe Biden for the position of Associate Attorney General on January 7, 2021.
If confirmed by the Senate, Gupta — who was described by Biden as “one of the most respected civil rights lawyers in America” — would make history, becoming the first person of color to serve as the Associate Attorney General, the third highest-ranking position at the Department of Justice.
The attorney’s history of trailblazing dates back further as she became the first woman confirmed as assistant attorney general for national security during the Obama administration.
Gupta, daughter of Raj Gupta, the former Chairman and CEO of the chemical giant Rohm and Haas, and his wife, Kamla Gupta, was born in Philadelphia in 1974. She did part of her schooling in France and England during her childhood while Raj Gupta served as a senior executive for Rohm and Haas in Europe for more than a decade.
After earning her BA and graduating magna cum laude from Yale University, Vanita Gupta earned her JD from the New York University (NYU) School of Law in 2001.
She started her career as an attorney at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Legal Defense & Educational Fund, where she successfully led the effort to overturn the wrongful drug convictions of 38 individuals in Tulia, Texas, who were ultimately pardoned by then-Gov. Rick Perry.
Gupta then joined the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) where she went to become the Deputy Legal Director and the Director of the Center for Justice. At ACLU, she led the Smart Justice Campaign aimed at ending mass incarceration.
From October 2014 to January 2017, Gupta was the chief civil rights prosecutor for the United States, as the Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department.
In June 2017, she joined the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, as its President and CEO. The Conference, one of the largest civil rights organizations in the world, is a coalition of more than 200 national organizations that promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States.
Gupta is married to Chinh Q. Le, a Vietnamese American, who is the Legal Director of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia. The two have two sons.
Read more on Vanita Gupta:
Vanita Gupta receives NAACP’s William Robert Ming Advocacy award (July 28, 2017)
Racial segregation in education exists today: Vanita Gupta (December 16, 2016)
Three dead, 19 injured in white supremacist rally violence in Virginia (August 13, 2017)
Tuesday a day of many firsts for Indian Americans (January 6, 2017)