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Biden picks Vanita Gupta as associate attorney general

By Lalit K Jha
Last updated on: January 07, 2021 21:59 IST
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US President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday nominated Indian-American Vanita Gupta to be the associate attorney general and roped in Judge Merrick Garland for the position of attorney general.

IMAGE: Vanita Gupta, President and CEO at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, testifies during the opening statements at a US House Judiciary Committee hearing on ‘Policing Practices and Law Enforcement Accountability’ on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, USA, June 10, 2020. Photograph: Mandel Ngan / Pool via Reuters.

He also announced the nominations of Lisa Monaco as deputy attorney general and Kristen Clarke for assistant attorney general for the civil rights division.


"Our first-rate nominees to lead the justice department are eminently qualified, embody character and judgment that is beyond reproach, and have devoted their careers to serving the American people with honor and integrity,” Biden said.

"They will restore the independence of the department so it serves the interests of the people not a presidency, rebuild public trust in the rule of law, and work tirelessly to ensure a more fair and equitable justice system,” he said.

Gupta, 46, is currently serving as president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. If confirmed by the US Senate, Gupta would be the highest ranking Indian-American in the department of justice.

They are among the “most accomplished” legal minds in our country who also reflect the best of America's full range of talents and background, Biden said.

“I am honoured they accepted this call to serve at such a critical time in our nation's history,” he said.

A former acting assistant attorney general and one of the best-known and most respected civil rights attorneys in America, Gupta would be the first woman of colour to serve in this role.

She has spent her career fighting successfully for greater equity in our justice system and advancing the rights and dignity of every American, Biden's transition said.

Gupta served as acting assistant attorney general for the civil rights Division -- the chief civil rights prosecutor for the United States. She is a successful consensus builder on tough issues, with years of experience on managing complex settlements and advocacy experience.

Judge Garland is an independent jurist on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. A consensus-building voice, Garland has worked under Democratic and Republican administrations.

He led investigations into some of the most high-profile cases and crises in modern history and coordinated the government's response to the Oklahoma City bombing.

Judge Garland's nomination underscores the president-elect's commitment to restore integrity and the rule of law, boost morale of the dedicated career professionals at DOJ, and build a more equitable justice system that serves all Americans, the transition said.

Monaco, a veteran prosecutor and dedicated public servant, served in the department of justice for 15 years, as assistant attorney general for National Security, a senior official in the Office of the Deputy Attorney General and as a career prosecutor.

She has been a trailblazer for women in national security. She was the first woman confirmed as assistant attorney general for National Security and was one of the most senior women on former president Barack Obama's national security team.

Clarke, a veteran of the department of justice, has extensive civil rights experience, starting her career in civil rights as a career attorney in the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice where she handled cases of police misconduct, hate crimes, human trafficking, voting rights, and redistricting cases.

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Lalit K Jha in Washington, DC
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