Vanita Gupta, the high-profile civil rights advocate who’s been nominated for the number three position at the Justice Department, got one step closer to Senate confirmation Thursday amid heavy pushback from conservative activists.
By a 49-45 vote, the Senate started the procedure that will get her confirmation on the Senate floor. Because the Senate Judiciary Committee deadlocked on party lines last month in a vote to advance her nomination, the full Senate must take an extra procedural step to put her confirmation before the entire chamber.
No Republicans joined Democrats in Wednesday’s vote to start the process of moving Gupta’s nomination from the committee to the chamber floor. However, no moderate Democrats defected from their caucus either — a signal that will Gupta will ultimately be confirmed.
(Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent, did not participate in the vote. Neither did five Republicans.)
Gupta, once confirmed, will be the first women of color to serve as the associate attorney general. It will be her second stint at the department after previously leading the DOJ civil rights division during the final years of the Obama administration.
But it’s her extensive career as a civil rights advocate — first at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the ACLU, and then most recently The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights — that also makes Biden’s selection of her for DOJ leadership noteworthy.
Gupta has faced one of more aggressive opposition campaigns among Biden’s nominees. The pushback was spearheaded by the Judicial Crisis Network, a conservative group that supports the confirmations of Republican-appointed judges. The group and its allies tried to paint Gupta has an anti-cop radical, despite the fact that her nomination has gotten the support of several law enforcement organizations, including a major police union that endorsed former President Trump.