Feb 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Exclusive: Law enforcement organizations back Biden pick for associate AG

Vanita Gupta speaks standing behind podium

Vanita Gupta Photo: Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Local and federal law enforcement officials are backing Vanita Gupta, President Biden’s nominee for associate attorney general, according to letters sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee and obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: The Major County Sheriffs of America noted Gupta “emphasized that she does not support efforts to ‘defund the police'” and highlighted her desire to improve criminal justice through methods that include increased training for law enforcement officials.

  • Biden broke from some progressives on the campaign trail when he repeatedly stated that he does not support defunding the police. But he supports other reforms, like increasing the DOJ's oversight of police departments.

The letters of support were sent by the Major County Sheriffs of America and the Federal Law Enforcement Officials Association.

  • In its letter, the Federal Law Enforcement Officials Association praised Gupta’s “dedication toward the advancement of civil rights,” arguing that it should “go a long way towards restoring the public trust.”

The other side: The Judicial Crisis Network, a conservative group, has launched an ad campaign seeking to challenge Gupta’s nomination. “When our cities burned Gupta could’ve stood for law and order, for victims. Instead she advocated to let convicts out of jail,” the ad claims.

Background: Gupta has a deep background in the civil rights space, previously working for groups like the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the American Civil Liberties Union.

  • She served as acting assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division under President Obama.
  • If confirmed, Gupta would be the first woman of color to serve in this role.

What’s next: The letters of support come as Biden seeks to fill top Justice Department positions. Judge Merrick Garland, Biden’s pick for attorney general, completed his hearings this week.

  • Gupta’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled for March 9.

Editor's note: The headline has been corrected to reflect that Gupta is the nominee for associate attorney general, not assistant attorney general.

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