Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tulia-sting litigator nominated to run DOJ Civil Rights Division

Wow, do I have mixed feelings about the Obama Administration nominating Vanita Gupta to head DOJ's Civil Rights division! I first met Vanita when she and Jeff Blackburn litigated the wrongful conviction cases arising out of the infamous Tulia drug sting and there aren't many lawyers I hold in higher esteem. So it's not that I question the quality of the pick.

More, it's that Vanita has done such a good job at national ACLU's Campaign to End Mass Incarceration that I hate to see a successful advocate's work neutered by DOJ bureaucracy, particularly given the uncertainty surrounding Eric Holder's departure and the fact that his successor will serve at most two years. Her work at ACLU bridged liberal-conservative divides, as evidenced by Grover Norquist and Marc Levin's quotes in Time magazine endorsing her nomination. And Grits lacks confidence that whomever is appointed from the farm team at ACLU will share her wisdom regarding the pitfalls of ideological rigidity and partisanship.

On the flip side, Gupta's selection indicates an appreciation by the Administration of the link between civil rights and the justice system that isn't always obvious from the DOJ's day-to-day stances and court pleadings. Perhaps, if the fates are on her side, she'll be given enough leash at DOJ to actually accomplish something in what, for litigators, is really a short span of time. And who knows? I suppose if Hillary is elected in 2016 she might be invited to keep the gig.

Certainly I wish Vanita luck and endorse her unequivocally as far as her qualifications for the job, even if part of me wishes the Senate would shoot her nomination down just so she can continue her current good work.


ckikerintulia said...

unlikely that the Senate will confirm anybody

albeed said...

"keep your friends close but your enemies closer"

DoJ = Den of J'accusers.

Walt Weaver said...

I enjoyed working with her as she was trying to get one of my Tulia clients out of prison.