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Vanita Gupta Is the New Acting Assistant Attorney General for DOJ Civil Rights
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Summary: Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Wednesday that Vanita Gupta will be the new Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Right Division. Gupta will also serve as the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General. Gupta succeeds Molly Moran who will now be the Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General. She will assume her new responsibilities from October 20.

Gupta began her career with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Besides working for NAACP and ACLU, Gupta has taught civil rights litigation and advocacy clinics at New York University School of Law since 2008.


Her first case involved leading an effort to win the release of 35 defendants in Tulia, Texas, whose drug convictions and lengthy sentences were discredited by the work of Gupta and the legal team of private bar attorneys she organized. The African-American defendants had been convicted by an all-white jury, and the only evidence was the testimony of an undercover agent who himself had a recorded misdemeanor charge for stealing gasoline from a county pump. All of the defendants were eventually pardoned in 2003 by Governor Rick Perry, and she helped to negotiate a $6 million settlement for those arrested.

Before joining the US Department of Justice, Gupta had been the Deputy Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union and Director of ACLU’s Center for Justice. She also worked previously as an attorney in ACLU’s Racial Justice Program.

On Gupta’s appointment, Attorney General Eric Holder said, “Even as she has done trailblazing work as a civil rights lawyer, Vanita is also known as a unifier and consensus builder. She has a knack for bridging differences and building coalitions to drive progress. I am certain that Vanita will serve as a sound steward of this critical division.”

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She received a B.A., magna cum laude, from Yale University and J.D. from New York University School of Law.


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