Vanita Gupta, Neera Tanden ‘unfairly targeted’


Charanjit Brahma, president of the South Asian Bar Association of Northern California, believes Vanita Gupta, President Joe Biden’s nominee for associate attorney general, “will make it through.”

Gupta had to face hard questions from the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee at her hearing on March 9, including on past tweets for which she apologized.

Charanjit Brahma, president, South Asian Bar Association of Northern California
Charanjit Brahma, president, South Asian Bar Association of Northern California

I think she has apologized for a certain statement, and personally I don’t think that it was necessary to apologize for anything,” Brahma told indica News.

He said that Gupta’s social media commentary was not a personal attack and it was practical to do that — apologize — to block any criticism.

And again, I doubt apology is going to sway any Republican senators,” he said.

If confirmed Gupta, 46 would be the first Indian American to hold the number three position in the United States Justice Department.

She was grilled on past newspaper opinion pieces she wrote on decriminalizing drugs and police reform.

If you see her op-ed in 2012, it doesn’t necessarily affect how she would enforce the law now,” Brahma said.

If you aren’t approaching the job with an open mind how are you supposed to have a fair enough objective,” he said. “All of the senators who have criticized their position too have changed over time and in fact she has done the job before so I can’t imagine who would be better qualified.”

During the hearing, Senator John Cornyn from Texas, the chair of the Senate Narcotics Caucus, asked Gupta if she supported the decriminalization of all drugs.

No, senator, I do not,” Gupta replied.

But Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas pointed to an editorial she penned for Huffington Post in 2012, which she wrote when she was deputy director of the ACLU. “States should decriminalize simply possession of all drugs, particularly marijuana, and for small amounts of drugs,” Gupta has written.

Gupta again defended herself when the committee’s chairman, Senator Dick Durbin, Democrat, Illinois, asked Gupta whether she supported defunding the police.

Gupta replied, “I do not support defunding the police. I have in fact spent my career advocating, where it’s necessary, for greater resources for law enforcement and things like body-worn cameras, wellness and safety programs and any number of measures.”

The South Asian Bar Association of Northern California (SABA-NC) in a statement has urged the elected officials to engage in the confirmation process in an unbiased, race-neutral, and gender-neutral manner.

Unfortunately, in the case of the confirmation hearings for two South Asian female nominees, Neera Tanden and Vanita Gupta, many of our congressional representatives failed to meet expectations,” the SABA-NC statement said.

These South Asian female nominees are being judged more harshly for their social media commentaries than non-South Asian, male candidates. SABA-NC expects better.

We are troubled by the seeming ease with which certain elected officials, many of whom turned a blind eye to over four years of social media abuse by Trump and/or who utilized and continue to use social media platforms to perpetrate abuse themselves, are singling out South Asian female nominees’ use of social media commentary to

block these women from positions for which they are qualified,” the statement said.

As lawyers, we owe a duty to society to maintain civility and professionalism. We urge our elected officials to remember that they too owe a duty of civility and professionalism to their constituents and the democratic processes which serve our country.”