Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta — the Justice’s Department’s third-ranking official, who focused on police accountability, abortion rights and antitrust issues — is resigning. Gupta, 49, has overseen civil litigation under Attorney General Merrick Garland, which includes the civil rights, antitrust and environmental divisions, as well as more than $5 billion in federal grants for public safety and criminal justice, reports the Washington Post. Gupta, a longtime civil rights lawyer, has led a DOJ reproductive rights ask force since the Supreme Court struck down federal protections for abortion access. Federal authorities sued Idaho over a restrictive abortion law and increased prosecustions of antiabortion activists accused of blocking access to reproductive clinics.
Gupta is the highest-ranking official to leave the Justice Department since Garland took over in 2021. Her departure comes as the agency faces critical tests heading into a presidential election year. Federal prosecutors have charged former presiden Trump in two felony cases and charged President Biden's son Hunterin tax and gun cases that have been highly politicized. Gupta is completing her second DOJ stint , hhaving overseen the civil rights division from 2014 to 2017 during the Obama administration. When Biden nominated her, Republicans accused her of being an activist who would cater to the demands of the far left.
She has maintained siupport from police unions and high-profile police chiefs as the Justice Department has pursued sweeping investigations aimed at forcing local police agencies to curb officer misconduct and excessive force. DOJ has announced findings of systemic abuses in the Minneapolis and Louisville police departments and plans to seek consent agreements mandating changes to policies and training. Chuck Wexler of the Police Executive Research Forum cited Gupta’s work to streamline consent decrees in ways that provide clearer guidance to local police agencies on how to emerge from federal oversight.