Former Head of the Civil Rights Division Vanita Gupta

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Picture of Vanita Gupta

On Oct. 15, 2014, President Obama appointed Vanita Gupta to lead the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice.  As the chief civil rights prosecutor for the United States, Ms. Gupta oversees a wide range of criminal and civil enforcement efforts to ensure equal justice and protect equal opportunity for all.

Under Ms. Gupta’s leadership, the division continues its critical work in a number of areas, including advancing constitutional policing and criminal justice reform; prosecuting hate crimes and human trafficking; promoting disability rights; protecting the rights of LGBTI individuals and combating discrimination in education, housing, employment, lending and voting.               

Ms. Gupta has devoted her entire career to civil rights work.  Prior to joining the Justice Department, she served as Deputy Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Director of its Center for Justice.  In addition to managing a robust litigation docket at the ACLU, Ms. Gupta worked with law enforcement agencies, corrections officials and stakeholders across the political spectrum to build collaborative support for policies that make our criminal justice system more effective and more just.

Previously, Ms. Gupta worked as an attorney at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, where she successfully led the effort to overturn the wrongful drug convictions of 38 individuals in Tulia, Texas, who were ultimately pardoned by Governor Rick Perry.  She then helped negotiate a $6 million settlement on behalf of her clients.

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

Updated February 2, 2017