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Press Release

Brennan Center Sees Deep Commitment to Voting Rights and Justice Reform in President-Elect Biden’s Picks for Top DOJ Leaders

“These nominations are a good sign for the strength of our Constitution,” says Brennan Center president Michael Waldman.

January 7, 2021
Contact: Rebecca Autrey, Media Contact,, 202-753-5904

Pres­id­ent-elect Joe Biden today announced he will nomin­ate Vanita Gupta to be asso­ci­ate attor­ney general and Kristen Clarke as assist­ant attor­ney general in charge of the civil rights divi­sion. Gupta is pres­id­ent and CEO of the Lead­er­ship Confer­ence on Civil and Human Rights, and Clarke is pres­id­ent and exec­ut­ive director of the Lawyers’ Commit­tee for Civil Rights Under Law. Both have worked closely with the Bren­nan Center for Justice at NYU Law.

Michael Wald­man, pres­id­ent of the Bren­nan Center for Justice, had this reac­tion:

"These nomin­a­tions are a good sign for the strength of our Consti­tu­tion. Vanita Gupta and Kristen Clarke will restore integ­rity and inde­pend­ence to the Depart­ment of Justice. Each of them brings a fierce dedic­a­tion to civil rights, racial equity, and to the rule of law. If confirmed they would take office at a crit­ical moment for the Justice Depart­ment. We look forward to work­ing with them and the rest of the Biden admin­is­tra­tion on civil rights, crim­inal justice reform, and voting rights.

"In Vanita Gupta and Kristen Clarke, Pres­id­ent-Elect Biden has chosen two formid­able lead­ers in the struggle for civil rights for all Amer­ic­ans. The Bren­nan Center has had the priv­ilege of part­ner­ing with both lead­ers and their organ­iz­a­tions. We have seen up close the tremend­ous contri­bu­tions each has made to the law and policy protect­ing civil rights and voting rights, and advan­cing crim­inal justice reform.

"Vanita Gupta is a gifted leader. As Assist­ant Attor­ney General for Civil Rights in the Obama admin­is­tra­tion, she pion­eered account­ab­il­ity for abus­ive police depart­ments. At the helm of the Lead­er­ship Confer­ence, she has been a tremend­ously effect­ive leader in the fight to protect voting rights, to advance reforms, and to fight for elec­tions that are free, fair, secure, and safe. She helped lead the fight for federal senten­cing reform and has a long­stand­ing record in the fight to end mass incar­cer­a­tion in the United States.

“Kristen Clarke is a tremend­ous leader in the fight for civil rights, a skilled attor­ney and an organ­izer of the legal community to protect voting rights and racial justice. The Lawyers’ Commit­tee, among other things, leads the elec­tion protec­tion effort that enlists attor­neys across the coun­try to help ensure that thou­sands of voters are able to cast their ballots. She has a compel­ling career as a former top prosec­utor in New York state and a civil rights litig­ator. She will restore the spirit and purpose of the stor­ied civil rights divi­sion of the Justice Depart­ment.”