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Staff Profile
Former Associate Attorney General

Vanita Gupta

Vanita Gupta was the 19th United States Associate Attorney General and served as the third-ranking official at the Department of Justice since her confirmation by the Senate on April 21, 2021. Associate Attorney General Gupta supervised the Department’s civil litigating divisions—the Civil Division, Civil Rights Division, Antitrust Division, Tax Division, and Environment and Natural Resources Division, the Department’s grantmaking components—the Office of Justice Programs, Office on Violence Against Women, and Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office), as well as the Office for Access to Justice, Office of Information Policy, the Community Relations Service, the United States Trustees Program, and the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission.

Associate Attorney General Gupta has been a leader in the Justice Department and across the federal government on issues ranging from building police-community trust to safeguarding reproductive freedom, increasing support for victims of gun violence and other crimes, promoting competition and economic opportunity, expanding community violence intervention programs, and more. She chaired the Justice Department’s Reproductive Rights and Opioid Epidemic Civil Litigation Task Forces, and has convened a Tribal Issues working group to better coordinate the Justice Department’s Tribal work. She spearheaded the Department’s efforts to implement more than 90 deliverables from the President’s Executive Order on Advancing Effective, Accountable Policing and Criminal Justice Practices to Enhance Public Trust and Public Safety. She led the Department’s work to combat unjust and unlawful fines and fees practices, including a Dear Colleague letter released in April of 2023 and a best practices guide. She has been a champion for environmental justice initiatives, including the Department’s Comprehensive Environmental Justice Enforcement Strategy and the new Office for Environmental Justice. And she is leading the effort to bring greater fairness and transparency to the Department’s process for handling student loan discharges in bankruptcy proceedings. 

Associate Attorney General Gupta previously served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the nation’s oldest and largest coalition of non-partisan civil rights organizations in the United States. 

Before serving in that capacity, from October 15, 2014, to January 20, 2017, she served as Acting Assistant Attorney General and Head of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. Appointed by President Barack Obama as the chief civil rights prosecutor for the United States, Associate Attorney General Gupta oversaw a wide range of civil rights enforcement matters, including investigations of the Ferguson, Baltimore, and Chicago police departments; appeals of voter ID cases in Texas and North Carolina; the challenge to North Carolina’s HB2 law and other LGBTQ+ rights litigation; and actions to combat anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of religious discrimination. 

Prior to leading the Civil Rights Division, Associate Attorney General Gupta served as Deputy Legal Director and the Director of the Center for Justice at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). In addition to managing litigation, she created and led the ACLU’s Smart Justice Campaign, aimed at promoting bipartisan justice reform while keeping communities safe. She began her legal career as an attorney at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund.  

Associate Attorney General Gupta graduated magna cum laude from Yale University and received her law degree from New York University School of Law, where later she taught a civil rights litigation clinic for several years.

Dates of Service
2021 - 2024
Updated February 7, 2024