The South Asian Bar Association of Washington, D.C. (SABA-DC) congratulates its member Vanita Gupta on her appointment as the acting head of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Vanita will become Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. She is the first South Asian American appointed to head the division.
“Vanita is an excellent choice for this position given her significant litigation and policy experience across a range of civil right issues. We are extremely excited about her appointment,” said Shuchi Batra, President of SABA-DC. Immediately prior to her appointment, Vanita was the Deputy Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Director of the ACLU’s Center for Justice, which houses the organization’s criminal justice reform, prisoners’ rights, and capital punishment work. Previously, Vanita served as a staff attorney with the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program, focusing on systemic criminal justice reform, immigration detention, and education litigation. She won a landmark settlement on behalf of immigrant children detained in a privately-run prison in Texas that led to the end of “family detention” at the facility.
Vanita began her career with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund where she successfully led the effort to overturn the wrongful drug convictions of 38 individuals in Tulia, Texas, and served on the legal team that won freedom for renowned prison journalist Wilbert Rideau in his fourth retrial after he had already spent 44 years in prison. She also successfully won significant sentence reductions for several men subject to harsh New York Rockefeller drug penalties.
In 2011, the National Law Journal recognized her as a Top 40 Minority Lawyer Under 40. Vanita is a magna cum laude graduate of Yale University and received her law degree from New York University School of Law.
SABA-DC is a voluntary bar association dedicated to promoting the needs, concerns, and interests of the South Asian American legal community in the Washington, D.C. area. The organization reaches approximately 1,000 attorneys and jurists of South Asian origin in the Washington, D.C. area.