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Photo: Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Senate voted 51-49 on Wednesday to confirm Vanita Gupta as associate attorney general, the third-highest ranking official at the Justice Department.

Why it matters: Most Republicans strongly opposed her nomination, which faced procedural hurdles after the Senate Judiciary Committee split 11-11 along party lines on whether to approve her.

  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) was the lone Republican to vote for Gupta's confirmation.
  • Gupta will oversee the department's civil, antitrust and civil rights litigation.
  • GOP committee members grilled Gupta during her confirmation hearing over past tweets and comments criticizing Republicans and former President Trump. She apologized during the hearing for any past "harsh rhetoric," per Reuters.

Background: Gupta headed the Justice Department's civil rights division during the Obama administration.

  • She's also worked for several civil rights groups, such as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the American Civil Liberties Union, and most recently, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

Go deeper

DOJ announces sweeping probe into Minneapolis policing practices

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Wednesday announced that the Justice Department will open a sweeping investigation into whether the Minneapolis Police Department has a "pattern or practice" of discriminatory policing practices.

Why it matters: The federal probe, which will also examine MPD's handling of misconduct allegations against officers, could result in significant changes to policing in Minneapolis in the wake of George Floyd's murder.

Van Jones: Chauvin verdict the "beginning of something"

CNN commentator Van Jones praised the guilty verdict handed down in the Derek Chauvin trial, saying, "that is what justice looks like" while noting that more work needs to be done to advance the cause of civil rights.

Why it matters: The Chauvin murder trial verdict is a rare conviction of a police officer, and many advocates expect it to be a crucial civil rights case in the fight for racial justice in the years to come.

What he's saying: "This is the beginning of something. This is not the end of anything," Jones said, calling upon Congress to act and pointing out what needs to change moving forward.

  • "Those chokeholds are still legal according to the federal government. That needs to change. There's no duty to intervene from the federal government. That needs to change. There's no registry for cops like Chauvin. That needs to change."
  • "I've seen so many kids who have done so much less than him walk out of courtrooms in handcuffs."

Teachers across the U.S. protest laws restricting racism lessons

Thousands of teachers and other educators held protests across the U.S. Saturday against the actions of "at least 15 Republican-led states" that aim to restrict teaching about racism in class, the Washington Post reports.

Driving the news: There were demonstrations in at least 22 cities for the "Day of Action" to raise awareness about moves to limit students' exposure to critical race theory, which links racial discrimination to the nation's foundations and legal system, per Axios' Russell Contreras.