Murkowski's Vote Lifts Gupta to Confirmation

Nominee to be associate attorney general faced broad GOP opposition
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 21, 2021 4:08 PM CDT
After a Chat, Murkowski Backs Justice Nominee
Vanita Gupta, who was confirmed by the Senate on Wednesady, speaks during an event in January.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Senate Republicans were nearly united in their opposition to making Vanita Gupta the No. 3 official in the Justice Department. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that Gupta has "a record of astoundingly radical positions." Democrats said she was the victim of a smear campaign and was endorsed by a list of law enforcement organizations. After a long talk with Gupta, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski broke ranks with her party, CNN reports. "I am going to give the benefit of the doubt to a woman who I believe has demonstrated throughout her professional career to be deeply, deeply committed to matters of justice," Murkowski said. She joined Democrats to confirm President Biden's nominee on a 51-49 vote, making Gupta associate attorney general. She'll become the first woman of color to hold the post.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer pointed out that she's also the first civil rights lawyer in the job. "That's shocking, really," Schumer said, adding, "In that sense alone, Ms. Gupta would bring a long overdue perspective to our federal law enforcement agency." She'll oversee civil litigation and law enforcement issues, per the Hill, which probably includes the federal investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department announced Wednesday by Attorney General Merrick Garland. In his address Tuesday after Derek Chauvin's conviction in Minneapolis, Biden mentioned Gupta and Kristin Clarke, his choice to run the Civil Rights Division. Biden said the two will "root out unconstitutional policing and reform our criminal justice system." (More Justice Department stories.)

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