Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans United Against Far-Left Justice Dept. Nominee

SEN. CORNYN: ‘The Opposition To [Vanita] Gupta Is A Direct Result Of Her History Of Inflammatory Public Statements, Radical Policy Positions, And A Laundry List Of Misleading Statements’


Republican Judiciary Committee Members: ‘Ms. Gupta’s Answers To Questions Were Troubling To Many Members On The Committee, Including … The Fact That It Appears That Many Of Those Answers Were Inconsistent With Her Past Statements’ And ‘There Remain Significant Questions About Ms. Gupta's Temperament’

ALL 11 JUDICIARY COMMITTEE REPUBLICANS: “The position of Associate Attorney General is the third-ranking position in the Department of Justice. The Associate Attorney General oversees, among other things, the civil litigation and enforcement apparatus of the United States. It is critical that the Associate Attorney General be someone who can be trusted to tell the truth. Further, the Senate must be able to trust that the testimony of public officials under oath will be truthful and complete.” (Congressional Record, S.1961-1962, 4/15/2021)

  • “While under oath, Vanita Gupta misled the Committee on at least four issues: (1) Her support for eliminating qualified immunity; (2) her support for decriminalizing all drugs; (3) her support for defunding the police; and (4) her death penalty record. Unfortunately, in her responses a week later to our written questions, Ms. Gupta was no more forthcoming. In some cases, she doubled down on her misleading statements from the hearing, and in others she refused to answer altogether. In ‘response’ to scores of our questions, she merely copied-and-pasted the same inapplicable, general statements for one question after another.” (Congressional Record, S.1961-1962, 4/15/2021)
  • “Further, there remain significant questions about Ms. Gupta's temperament, about which she refuses to answer even simple questions. During her hearing, multiple members of this Committee asked her about her harsh rhetoric and her attacks on the character and integrity of sitting federal judges and members of the Senate. In response, she told the Committee that she ‘regrets’ her rhetoric. Yet, in responses to written questions after the hearing, Ms. Gupta repeatedly and notably refused to renounce her previous attacks, such as her prior assertions that four different jurists on the Supreme Court are liars, extremists, ‘dangerous,’ or ‘opposed to civil and human rights.’ Instead, in response to written questions from multiple members about her attacks on senators or the federal judiciary, Ms. Gupta chose to copy-and-paste more than 40 times a generalized statement that she has either ‘tremendous respect’ or ‘immense respect’ for judges or for members of the United States Senate.” (Congressional Record, S.1961-1962, 4/15/2021)

Letter signed by:

  • Ranking Member Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
  • Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)
  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)
  • Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO)
  • Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA)
  • Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
  • Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)
  • Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE)
  • Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR)
  • Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC)

(Congressional Record, S.1961-1962, 4/15/2021)

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA), Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member: “I think that [Vanita Gupta] will have her work cut out for her showing us that she can represent all Americans in the role that she has been selected for. While some of her career has been admirable civil rights litigation, much of it has been strident liberal advocacy. Her public persona has often been very partisan. So a legitimate question, will this advocacy affect her work supervising civil antitrust environment, civil rights, and tax evasion? … Her Twitter feed has painted Republicans with a broad brush … Will that kind of partisan political advocacy affect her legal advocacy in the role where she represents all Americans? She has attacked the character of many judicial nominees, most of whom are now sitting on the federal bench…. She personally signed salacious opposition research dumps on 39 different circuit nominees over the last four years. Judges have thick skins, but the fact is that her name is going to be on hundreds, maybe thousands, of briefs before those judges whose character she frequently maligned. So a question, how will she square the kind of even-keeled legal advocacy we expect from our country’s top civil lawyer with the kind of unfair political advocacy championing against the very judges she’ll be appearing before?” (U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing, 3/09/2021)

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX), Senate Judiciary Committee Member: “Ms. Gupta is a polarizing figure, as reflected by the vote in the Judiciary Committee. It was a tie vote, 11 votes to 11. So she failed to receive a majority support from the committee … I want to be clear, though, the passionate opposition of this nominee is not about politics…. The opposition to Ms. Gupta is a direct result of her history of inflammatory public statements, radical policy positions, and a laundry list of misleading statements and flat-out lies during her sworn testimony before the Judiciary Committee.” (Sen. Cornyn, Congressional Record, S.1969, 4/15/2021)

  • SEN. CORNYN: “The position of Associate Attorney General is not some bureaucratic paper-pusher. This is the third ranking position at the Department of Justice, the highest law enforcement Agency in America. The American people deserve to know that the individuals leading the Department have no agenda other than to fairly and impartially administer justice, but based on everything we now know about Ms. Gupta, I do not have faith in her ability to deliver on this most basic principle. Ms. Gupta is not a career public servant. She is a partisan culture warrior with a radical agenda.” (Sen. Cornyn, Congressional Record, S.1969, 4/15/2021)

SEN. MIKE LEE (R-UT), Senate Judiciary Committee Member: “Now, you might ask why Republicans felt so strongly about speaking on Ms. Gupta’s nomination before the vote was cast in the committee markup. Well, it might have something to do with the fact that Ms. Gupta’s answers to questions were troubling to many members on the committee, including answers to questions regarding a wide range of topics, including the legalization of narcotics, eliminating qualified immunity, defunding police, the death penalty, among many others, and the fact that it appears that many of those answers were inconsistent with her past statements, and in other cases, difficult to defend.” (Sen. Lee, Congressional Record, S.1965, 4/15/2021)

  • SEN. LEE: “What also concerns me is whether, with the force of the U.S. Department of Justice behind her, whether she is capable of respecting the constraints of the law, of the Constitution, and of federalism. In her efforts to push her policy preferences and reward those with whom she disagrees, I am very concerned that she might stretch the boundaries of her authority much further than it was ever intended to go. Ms. Gupta has exhibited on Twitter and elsewhere that she is someone who holds very strident political views, views that many would regard as very radical, and I feel neither confident nor comfortable that she will respect those with views contrary to her own.” (Sen. Lee, Congressional Record, S.1965, 4/15/2021)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), Senate Judiciary Committee Member: “When it comes to defunding the police, it is here that Ms. Gupta is most radical. Last year, Ms. Gupta, in a written filing with this Senate, encouraged Congress to ‘reexamine Federal spending priorities and shrink the footprint of the police and criminal legal system in this country.’ She also encouraged reallocating resources, writing, ‘Some people call it ‘defunding the police,’ other people call it ‘divest-invest,’ but whatever you call it, if you care about mass incarceration, you have to care about skewed funding priorities.’ These weren’t Ms. Gupta’s college writings. These weren’t scribblings on a Post-it she made somewhere. These statements were from last year, submitted to the U.S. Senate. And on their face and unequivocally, they advocate for defunding the police. There is no question on her record that Ms. Gupta is a hard-left partisan radical whose beliefs don’t align with the majority of the American people. So why are Democrats so hell-bent on making sure she gets confirmed? Two reasons. Reason No. 1: Headlines. Democrats care so deeply about looking good in the press, they continue to press through partisan bills and partisan activists for adulation by adoring media. Reason No. 2: Today’s Democrats are beholden to the far-left voices in their party, and they are fulfilling campaign promises that they made to the radical left. That is why they nominated Ms. Gupta, and that is why they broke Judiciary Committee rules to move forward her nomination.” (Sen. Cruz, Congressional Record, S.1974, 4/15/2021)

SEN. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-TN), Senate Judiciary Committee Member: “I arrived at the opinion that, no, I didn’t think [Vanita Gupta] was fit to take that No. 3 position, not because I disagreed politically but because the answers that she gave on some specific issues--police funding, drug legalization, qualified immunity--were so inconsistent with what she had previously said or what she had previously written that no one can say with any degree of certainty what she will do with the newfound power if we decided to give that to her. No one knows what she would do. … I want to go back to the 2012 article and use that as one example. There has been quite a bit said about that. Now, she was in the position of the ACLU’s deputy legal director. She wrote an op-ed arguing--and I quote, and we have just heard a good bit about this—’States should decriminalize simple possession of all drugs, particularly marijuana, and for small amounts of other drugs.’ That is a quote. Speaking as a Senator representing the interests of a State struggling to emerge from the opioid epidemic, this statement to me is a disqualifier. It is as simple as that.” (Sen. Blackburn, Congressional Record, S.1973, 4/15/2021)

  • SEN. BLACKBURN: “In her hearing, which took place in March, Ms. Gupta almost got away with disavowing that op-ed. But when we pressed her on it, what did she have to say? That her position had evolved. It seems there is an issue with some of these nominees that are coming before us. They are going through these just in time, road to Damascus, evolution processes. All of a sudden, they are evolving to a position of something that they think the committee wants to hear, that they think will help them skirt through, that they think will help them get confirmed so that they can hold the power. … Madam President, everyone has the right and the opportunity to change their mind. Absolutely, people have the right to change their mind, but trying to follow the many changes of her mind on the issue of drug crimes, on decriminalization, on defunding police--these are important issues to our communities. These are not a game. These are very important issues to the safety and security of our communities. The number of inconsistencies in her testimony more than test the boundaries of understanding. Is she still evolving? Is she going to flip-flop, as the Washington Post says, back to her previous opinions of 2012? Is she going to flip-flop again? Would we see that in the next 11,000 pages of documents that were submitted that she has decided to change her mind one more time? From what standard is she going to work at the Department of Justice? Each of these are concerns. Each of these are reasons that my hope is that this Chamber will refuse to discharge Vanita Gupta for a confirmation vote.” (Sen. Blackburn, Congressional Record, S.1973, 4/15/2021)

SEN. TOM COTTON (R-AR), Senate Judiciary Committee Member: “Vanita Gupta is President Biden’s nominee to be Associate Attorney General. She is unfit for that role. She is unfit because of her radical view that every single American and every single institution in the United States is inherently racist. She is unfit because she lacks the temperament to do the job, as evidenced by her relentless attacks on the integrity and character of judges and Senators alike, seemingly anytime she had a mere disagreement with them. She is certainly unfit based on her attempts to mislead the Senate in her Judiciary Committee hearing.” (Sen. Cotton, Congressional Record, S.1960, 4/15/2021)


During Her Hearing Before The Judiciary Committee, Vanita Gupta Denied Holding Positions She Clearly Stated In Prior Testimony Or Published In The Media

THEN: ‘Decrease Police Budgets’

VANITA GUPTA, June 2020: “While front-end systems changes are important, it is also critical for state and local leaders to heed calls from Black Lives Matter and Movement for Black Lives activists to decrease police budgets and the scope, role, and responsibility of police in our lives. … Every year, Congress provides millions of dollars to law enforcement agencies through federal grant programs to support police. This moment requires Congress to conduct oversight and reexamine how those funding streams are supporting discriminatory policing practices and eroding community trust. Ultimately, it is becoming clear that Congress must redirect government dollars away from policing practices rooted in the criminal-legal system and the carceral state, and toward policy goals that reflect a vision of public safety that promotes community health and safety.” (Statement Of Vanita Gupta, President And CEO, The Leadership Conference On Civil And Human Rights, U.S. Senate Committee On The Judiciary Oversight Hearing On Police Use Of Force And Community Relations, 6/16/2020)

NOW: ‘I Do Not Support Defunding The Police’

VANITA GUPTA: “I do not support defunding the police.” (U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing, 3/09/2021)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): “I would note that just a few months ago last year, in written correspondence with the Senate of the United States, you encouraged Congress to quote re-examine federal spending priorities and shrink the footprint of the police and criminal legal system in this country, and you also encouraged reallocating resources and stated quote some people call it defunding the police, other people call it divest/investment but whatever you call it if you care about mass incarceration you have to care about skewed funding priorities. These were not college writings. This was about eight months ago that you wrote this to the Senate. By any measure that is advocating defunding the police, and yet today, you are telling this committee you don’t support that.”
VANITA GUPTA: “Senator, respectfully I disagree with how you are characterizing that. I don’t support defunding the police. I have been very clear about that.” (U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing, 3/09/2021)

THEN: ‘States Should Decriminalize Simple Possession Of All Drugs’

VANITA GUPTA, November 2012: “Obama and Romney should support smart, data-driven legislative and administrative reforms that help states and the federal government reduce their incarcerated populations and corrections budgets, while keeping our communities safe…. Below are just a sampling of smart reforms: … Decriminalize/’Defelonize’ Drug Possession. States should decriminalize simple possession of all drugs, particularly marijuana, and for small amounts of other drugs.” (Vanita Gupta and Ezekiel Edwards, Op-Ed, “It’s Time to Discuss Criminal Justice Reform,” Huffington Post, 11/04/2012)

NOW: ‘I Do Not Support Decriminalization Of All Drugs’

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): “Is it true that you advocate decriminalization of all drugs?”
VANITA GUPTA: “No, senator, I do not.” (U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing, 3/09/2021)

SEN. CORNYN: “And just to clarify my initial question about drugs, did you say in response to a questionnaire from the committee at page 1,037 and that you believe that states should decriminalize simple possession of all drugs, particularly marijuana and for small amounts of other drugs?”
VANITA GUPTA: “Senator, I have advocated as I believe President Biden has for decriminalization of marijuana possession. I believe that substance use disorder is both an enforcement problem and a public health problem, but I do not support decriminalization of all drugs.” (U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing, 3/09/2021)



Related Issues: Nominations, Law Enforcement