Republicans attempt to paint Biden DOJ nominees of color as radical

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) declared that the attacks on Vanita Gupta and Kristen Clarke were "essentially part of a smear campaign.”

Republicans in the Senate have been using the confirmation of hearings of DOJ nominees Vanita Gupta and Kristen Clarke to depict them as “radical,” “extreme,” and undercutting law enforcement.

President Joe Biden nominated Gupta and Clarke, who comes with extensive credentials, for top-ranking positions at the Department of Justice. Gupta, who is Indiana American, previously served under President Barack Obama as the head of the DOJ’s Civil Rights division. She is being considered for Associate Attorney General.  

Clarke, a well-known civil rights attorney, started her career in the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ and was a federal prosecutor. She is nominated for Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice.

Kristen Clarke Vanita Gupta
(Credit: Getty Images)

Read More: Meet Kristen Clarke, Biden’s historic appointee to champion civil rights at the DOJ

If confirmed, Gupta would be the first woman of color to be appointed to the No.3 role at the DOJ. Clarke would also make history by becoming the first woman of color to lead the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division.

Despite their experience, Republicans have been staunchly against their nominations.

“They represent a far-left radical agenda that’s out of step with the American public and certainly with our respective states,” Sen. Josh Hawley said in an interview with Politico. “We’ve got to put that before the voters. That’s what we do. And in 2022, voters will have a chance to weigh in and we’ll go from there, but we have to make the case for that.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair Rick Scott (R-Fla.) have also attempted to discredit Gupta and Clarke. They’ve called into question whether they are truly “moderate” and that they’d embrace the “defund the police” movement.

Democrats were quick to cite that the women had the support of law enforcement groups such as the National Fraternal Order of Police, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Major Cities Chiefs Association.

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) chided the criticism as “partisan.” He further noted that some of the members on the Senate Judiciary Committee, many of whom are interested in a 2024 presidential run were more focused on “looking to score social media points.”

President-Elect Biden Announces His Key Justice Department Nominees
Vanita Gupta delivers remarks after being nominated to be U.S. associate attorney general by President-elect Joe Biden at The Queen theater January 07, 2021 in Wilmington, Delaware. From 2014 to 2017 Gupta served as the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division during the Obama Administration. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Read More: Biden nominates Kristen Clarke for senior role at DOJ

There was also the belief that Republicans were more ready to pillar the nominees of color. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) declared that the attacks were “essentially part of a smear campaign.”

Blumenthal added that it was “vile and smacks of gender and race bias.”

During Gupta’s confirmation hearing in March, Sen. Tom Cotton questioned Gupta about her previous comments of stating that everyone has implicit bias. He also wondered if someone could “oppose the nomination of a woman or a racial minority on the merits without being racist or sexist.”

Since the Senate is equally divided between Democrats and Republicans, there is little room for error for Biden’s nominees to be confirmed. Neera Tanden, who is Indian American, saw her candidacy to lead the Office of Management and Budget derailed amid claims of discrimination. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) opposed Tanden and effectively ended her bid.

Sen. John Cornyn, who went viral last week after attempting to use a satirical op-ed against Clarke, relayed that he would bring his concerns to the West Virginia senator.

“Sometimes we’ve seen a lot of time and effort spent on one nominee, and then everybody’s exhausted,” Cornyn said, “And somebody else slips on through with basically unanimous support.”

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