Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer argued Wednesday the guilty verdict in Derek Chauvin’s trial underscored the need to confirm Vanita Gupta, President Biden’s embattled nominee for associate attorney general.
“Yesterday, a jury of former police officer Derek Chauvin’s peers determined that he was guilty of murdering George Floyd,” said Mr. Schumer, New York Democrat. “We should not mistake a guilty verdict in this case as evidence that the persistent problem of police misconduct … has been [solved]. It has not.”
Claiming that America “must remain diligent in striving to root out racial bias,” Mr. Schumer asserted that a “modest” next step would be confirming the “right” federal law enforcement officials.
“Justice, true justice, will not come until we finally banish the ancient poison of racism,” the majority leader said. “Part of that effort, although modest, is installing committed, experienced, compassionate civil rights leaders in positions of power in the justice department.”
One such figure, according to Mr. Schumer, is Ms. Gupta, who Mr. Biden has tapped to serve as associate attorney general.
A former head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division during the Obama administration, Ms. Gupta is currently the president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. The group, which was founded in the 1950s to push for civil rights, is one of the nation’s largest special-interest groups backing liberal causes.
Ms. Gupta‘s nomination, though, has proved controversial. In particular, she has come under fire from Republicans for prior comments suggesting support for defunding the police and the decriminalization of all drugs. Ms. Gupta has also signaled an openness to packing the Supreme Court.
During her confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Ms. Gupta has done little to allay the concerns of Republicans on those topics.
“She has avoided answering questions, or as in the case of her testimony… has taken [a] 180-degree position different from what she has said on previous occasions,” said Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican.
GOP opposition was evidenced last month when the Senate Judiciary Committee deadlocked on moving Ms. Gupta‘s nomination forward.
Mr. Schumer, however, is determined to secure confirmation.
“At a time when our country needs to make strides against racial injustice, how can we not install one of the nation’s top civil rights lawyers at the Department of Justice?” he said.