First Indian American Associate Attorney General: Vanita Gupta

2 years ago / by Team SEEMA
Gupta Vanita
Image credits: Staticflickr

After being confirmed as Associate Attorney General by the United States Senate, civil rights lawyer Vanita Gupta became history’s first Indian American to hold the position. By a vote of 51 to 49, Gupta was barely confirmed, with just one Republican breaking ranks to support her candidacy.

Republican Senators opposed Gupta’s candidacy almost unanimously during a difficult confirmation process. When it came to hot-button topics like defunding the police or legalizing narcotics, they claimed she was nominated by a “radical” group. But is it true? Keep reading to learn all about Vanita Gupta.

Meet Vanita Gupta

gupta vanita
Image credits: Indiaspora

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund hired Vanita Gupta after she graduated from New York University School of Law in 2001. After looking into a string of drug-related convictions and arrests in Tulia, Texas, she gained national notoriety. Almost the majority of the guys found guilty were of African American descent. She was able to show that a narcotics agent called Tom Coleman had manufactured the accusations against her. In 2003, Rick Perry, Texas’s governor at the time, pardoned 35 of the men in her case as a consequence.

She then became a team attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), where she worked tirelessly to promote collaboration among law enforcement agencies, advocates, stockholders, and elected officials in an effort to develop the effectiveness of the criminal law system in the United States. She subsequently ascended through the ranks of the ACLU, serving as the organization’s Deputy Legal Director and as the center’s director.

Obama nominated her to the position of Acting Assistant Attorney General in 2014, where she served as the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division until she retired in 2017. Gupta oversaw numerous criminal and civil enforcement operations under the Obama administration to assist safeguard the rights of LGBTQI+ people, survivors of human trafficking as well as hate crimes, and also to guarantee voting rights and fair opportunity in housing, employment, and lending for everyone.

She formerly worked as the Chief Executive Officer of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the oldest civil rights coalition in the United States.

Gupta was up in Philadelphia as the daughter of Indian immigrants. She got her graduation with honors from Yale University with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Chinh Q. Le, the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia’s Director of Legal Services, is her husband. There are two children in the family.

Procedures Leading Up To The Confirmation Of Gupta

Gupta Vanita
Image credits: BWBX

President Joe Biden appointed Gupta as Associate Attorney General in January of this year, making him the Department of Justice’s third-highest ranking official (DOJ). He called the Indian-American lawyer “one of the most renowned civil rights attorneys in the United States.”

The majority of Republicans opposed Gupta’s nomination, calling her a ‘radical’ candidate who has long been hostile of Republican legislators and shown to be a “very political advocate. Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, called Gupta’s record “astonishingly extreme.”

Gupta apologized for her “harsh language” towards Republican leaders during her confirmation hearing.

The Republican Party has obstructed her candidacy, but notable Conservatives have spoken out in favor of her. The Washington Post published that a coalition of anti-Trump conservatives had planned an $800,000 ad campaign in favor of Gupta. According to the New York Times, conservative criminal justice organizations like Koch Industries as well as Grover Norquist have also backed her.

Critics of Gupta’s work during the Obama administration dominated Republican attacks against her. Despite Gupta’s repeated claims to the contrary, Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) maintained that she did back proposals to cut police funding.

Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, a Republican, was the lone outlier who voted in favor of Gupta’s appointment. She cited a long discussion with Gupta before the hearing as the reason for her decision to support Gupta.

After Mukowski chose to endorse Gupta, Vice President Kamala Harris was not required to vote in the procedural vote because of a potential 50-50 tie.

The Responsibilities Of Gupta As Assistant Attorney General

gupta vanita
Image credits: New York Times

Gupta will oversee the Justice Department’s civil rights litigation, including its antitrust, civil, and environmental divisions, in his new role as Associate Attorney General.

FAQs About Vanita Gupta

Who is Vanita Gupta’s husband?

She’s married to Chinh Q. Le, Legal Aid Society of DC’s director of legal services. They’re parents of two sons.

Where was Vanita Gupta born?

Born to Indian immigrants in Philadelphia, Gupta graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1989.

What nationality is Vanita Gupta?

Vanita Gupta was born and raised in the United States.

Where did Vanita Gupta go to high school?

The Yale University awarded her a magna cum laude for her Bachelor of Arts. New York University School of Law awarded her a Juris Doctorate in 2001.


We hope you enjoyed this comprehensive bio on Vanita Gupta and were inspired by her will to stand up for what is right and fight all the obstacles in her way to emerge victorios. To learn more about other notable personalities, keep reading Seema.