Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the today’s confirmation vote on the nomination of Vanita Gupta to serve as Associate Attorney General. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks which can also be viewed here:
We will not rest until the Senate passes strong legislation to end the systemic bias in law enforcement.
Part of that effort, though modest, is installing committed, experienced, compassionate civil rights leaders in positions of power in the Justice Department, our nation’s top law enforcement agency.
It just so happens that today, the Senate will vote on the confirmation Ms. Vanita Gupta to be the next Associate Attorney General. Not only is Ms. Gupta the first woman of color to ever be nominated to the position, she is the first civil rights attorney ever to be nominated to the position—the third ranking official in the Justice Department.
That’s shocking, really. We never have had a former civil rights attorney serving in such a position of prominence at the Justice Department.
In that sense alone, Ms. Gupta would bring a long overdue perspective to our federal law enforcement agency.
And just to give you a sense of Ms. Gupta’s commitment to civil rights and racial equity: in her very first case after law school, she won the release of several African-Americans who had been wrongfully convicted by all-white juries in Texas. Her clients later won a full pardon from Texas Governor Rick Perry.
At a time when our country needs to make strides against racial injustice, how can we not install one of the nation’s top civil rights lawyers at the Department of Justice? How can our colleagues not rise to the occasion – our colleagues on the other side of the aisle – and vote for her? I’m so, so troubled by the fact that they are virtually unanimously against such a fine person who is needed so much at this time.
Unfortunately, Ms. Gupta might be the first nominee in this Congress where the vote falls entirely down on party lines. I hope it doesn’t come to that. The effort to elevate highly-qualified civil rights attorneys like Ms. Gupta should be bipartisan.
I urge my colleagues, all of them, and particularly my friends on the other side of the aisle, to vote in favor of Ms. Gupta’s nomination today.