Good morning. I want to welcome everyone to this hearing to
consider the nominations of two candidates to the leadership of the Department
of Justice: Lisa Monaco to be Deputy Attorney General; and Vanita Gupta to be Associate
Attorney General of the United States.
Both nominees are here with us today. I’d like to extend a warm
welcome to both of them and to their families.
Lisa Monaco is nominated to serve as the Deputy Attorney General,
the second-highest ranking position in the Department of Justice. It’s a
serious job, and I want to applaud President Biden on nominating a serious
person to the position. Ms. Monaco has worked to keep Americans safe – from
violent criminals, terrorists, and cyber threats. She is the type of mainstream
pick I would expect from a Democratic administration.
Vanita Gupta has been nominated to serve the DOJ as its third
highest ranking official—the Associate Attorney General. While the Deputy Attorney General generally
runs criminal law enforcement, the Associate Attorney General is in charge of
the civil side of the Justice Department.
Ms. Gupta comes before this Committee with an impressive career
advocating on behalf of various liberal civil rights organizations. She has
worked with my office in the past on criminal-justice reform, and I appreciate
what we’ve been able to do together in that area.
But Ms. Gupta is going to have her work cut out for her showing us
that she can represent all Americans in the role she has been selected for.
While some of Ms. Gupta’s career has been admirable civil-rights litigation,
much of it has been strident liberal advocacy. Her public persona has often
been partisan and uncompromising. Will this advocacy affect her work
supervising the Civil, Antitrust, Environment, Civil Rights, and Tax Divisions?
We’re here to find out.
Her Twitter feed has painted Republicans with a broad brush, describing
the Republican National Convention as three nights of “racism, xenophobia, and
outrageous lies.” How many of our
colleagues in this room were there? Of course, Ms. Gupta has in fact launched Twitter
attacks on some of them directly. Will
that kind of partisan political advocacy affect Ms. Gupta’s legal advocacy in a
role where she represents all of us Americans?
Ms. Gupta has attacked the character of many judicial nominees,
most of whom are now sitting on the federal bench. She called the confirmation of now Supreme
Court Justice Amy Coney Barret “illegitimate.” She called Judge Kavanaugh “a privileged,
life-long partisan” whose testimony was “horrifying.” She personally signed salacious
opposition-research dumps on 39 different circuit nominees over the last four
Judges have thick skins. But
the fact is that Ms. Gupta’s name is going to be on hundreds—maybe thousands—of
briefs before those judges whose character she frequently maligned. 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 she championed against the very judges she’ll be appearing
Ms. Gupta’s list of controversial statements is long. Ms. Gupta’s
prior experience in the Civil Rights Division also raises alarms. Whether it’s
the use of grant programs and consent decrees to federalize local law
enforcement, the use of Justice Department slush funds to funnel money to
liberal non-profit political allies, or attempts to restrict school choice in
Louisiana through decades-old desegregation orders, there’s a lot to worry
about. In the weeks since President
Biden took office, we’ve seen stark changes to the Justice Department,
suggesting a rapid return to the Holder days.
We need to find out from Ms. Gupta if she’ll help run the Justice
Department for all Americans or be President Biden’s progressive wing-person.
I’d like to end by reiterating Ms. Gupta’s help on
criminal-justice reform and acknowledge the strong support she’s received from some
law-enforcement organizations. But the fact is the Associate Attorney General’s
portfolio includes almost no oversight over federal criminal prosecution or
federal law enforcement. The kinds of targets that will be in her agenda are
conservative non-profits, those who work in natural-resource extraction,
pro-lifers, religious employers, Google’s competitors, college students,
Republican legislatures, and so on. They’re
the ones who are concerned about Ms. Gupta’s nomination, and it’s up to her to
show us all that they shouldn’t be.
Finally, I’d like to say how I approach the issue of
equality. There’s a big difference
between equal protection and equal outcomes. Equality means equal treatment,
unbiased competition, and impartiality judges outcomes. Equity means equal outcomes
achieved by unequal treatment, biased competition and preferential
judgement. We all need to go by what the
Declaration of Independence said: it’s self-evident that all people are created