Top DOJ Official Steps Down

( – Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta will leave the Justice Department early next year. Gupta oversaw the department’s civil litigation, as well as civil rights and environmental protection divisions, for three years. Attorney General Merrick Garland described her as an effective leader who navigated complex challenges. “I am confident that her enormous contributions to the Department will continue to be felt long after her departure,” he said.

During her time at the Justice Department, Gupta was involved in major legal settlements, including those brought by the families of victims of mass shootings. She also established a Reproductive Rights Task Force when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade. The task force consisted of officials and staff from various departments “working daily to address complex and widespread threats to reproductive health in the wake of Dobbs.”

Ms. Gupta was also instrumental in the Justice Department’s lawsuit against Idaho last year. Lawmakers in the Gem State enacted a trigger law when Roe v Wade was reversed, bringing legislation passed in 2020 into effect; this criminalized abortion and imposed a five-year prison term. The Justice Department argued that the law violated the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, which states that anyone arriving at a medical facility should be stabilized.

“Idaho’s law would make it a criminal offense for doctors to provide the emergency medical treatment that federal law requires,” Merrick Garland said.

Addressing abortion availability in the wake of Roe, Gupta said that she would monitor state laws and take any steps possible to protect access to the procedure. She added that even in states that did not restrict or ban abortion, women were intimidated to prevent them from “seeking abortion and other reproductive health services.”

Vanita Gupta will reportedly leave the Justice Department in February. Before taking office in 2021, she was President of the Civil Rights organization, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. She also led the Civil Rights Department during Barack Obama’s second term.

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