This profile contains Biden Administration nominations and appointments made at the U.S. Department of Justice.
Nominations and Appointments
Kristen Clarke is Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. Clarke was most recently the President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. She also formerly served as head of the Civil Rights Bureau at the New York State Attorney General’s office, as a federal prosecutor in the criminal section of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, and worked for several years at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. She has served on the board of directors of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the Poverty & Race Research Action Council. She is listed on Demand Justice’s Supreme Court shortlist.
Clarke’s nomination attracted controversy when Fox News revealed a letter that she had written to The Harvard Crimson in 1994, while an undergraduate at Harvard University and President of the Black Students Association. In the letter, Clarke referenced a series of “theories and observations” related to “the genetic differences between Blacks and whites,” including that “Melanin endows Blacks with greater mental, physical and spiritual abilities – something which cannot be measured based on Eurocentric standards.” Also while at Harvard, Clarke invited former Wellesley College professor Tony Martin, the author of an anti-Semitic self-published work entitled “The Jewish Onslaught,” to speak on campus. Clarke subsequently stated that it “was a mistake” to have hosted and defended Martin, and that “I unequivocally denounce antisemitism.” She also stated that her comments at Harvard had been “twisted,” and that the letter was written in response to the book The Bell Curve as a means of “fighting one ridiculous absurd racist theory with another ridiculous absurd theory.”
Clarke also received scrutiny for an op-ed she wrote, published in Newsweek in 2020, entitled “I Prosecuted Police Killings. Defund the Police – But Be Strategic.” In the op-ed, she advocated for investing “less in police,” and more in other social services. During her confirmation hearing, Clarke stated that she did not support defunding the police, or “taking away resources from police.”
Merrick Garland is Attorney General. Garland formerly served as a Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and was Chair of the Executive Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States. He also served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division and Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice, and clerked for former Supreme Court Justice William Brennan. In 2016, President Obama nominated Garland to the Supreme Court of the United States to succeed Antonin Scalia, but he was not confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
Vanita Gupta is Associate Attorney General. She was most recently the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. During the Obama Administration from October 2014 to January 2017, she served as Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice. Prior to that, she held multiple positions at the American Civil Liberties Union, including Deputy Legal Director and Director of the Center for Justice. She began her career as a staff attorney at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund. She formerly served as a board member at Equal Justice Works and StoryCorps, and has been a panelist at multiple Democracy Alliance Conferences. Gupta was a member of the advisory board of Protect the Investigation, and is listed on Demand Justice’s Supreme Court Shortlist.
Gupta was narrowly confirmed by the Senate in a 51-49 vote, and her nomination was controversial. Republicans criticized her past partisan rhetoric, which Gupta admitted that she regretted, as well as positions she had previously espoused on decreasing police budgets and drug decriminalization. In 2012, Gupta co-authored an article in which she argued that “States should decriminalize simple possession of all drugs, particularly marijuana, and for small amounts of other drugs,” though she has stated that she no longer supports this position. Gupta was also questioned about written testimony she submitted to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary in June 2020, in her capacity as head of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, in which she wrote that “it is also critical for state and local leaders to heed calls from Black Lives Matter and Movement for Black Lives activists to decrease police budgets and the scope, role, and responsibility of police in our lives.” Observers also commented on Gupta’s wealth, noting that her financial disclosures revealed assets of between $42 million and $187 million, which would make her among the wealthiest members of the Biden Administration.
In July 2022, Gupta was appointed to chair a newly established Reproductive Rights Task Force at the Department of Justice. The Washington Free Beacon subsequently reported that in 2020, while President & CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Gupta had written a letter opposing the confirmation of David Dugan to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. In the letter, she quoted the pro-abortion access group NARAL Pro-Choice America in referring to crisis pregnancy centers as “fake health-care clinics that lie to, shame and intentionally mislead women about their reproductive-health-care options to block them from accessing abortion care.” The Beacon noted that crisis pregnancy centers help counsel pregnant women on available alternatives to abortion, and dozens had been attacked or vandalized in the months prior to Gupta’s appointment to the Reproductive Rights Task Force.
Pamela Karlan is Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Division. She is on leave from her position as a professor at Stanford Law School, where she co-directed the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic. She formerly served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice during the Obama Administration, as a commissioner on the California Fair Political Practices Commission, as an assistant counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, as a professor at the University of Virginia School of Law, and as a clerk to former Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, and the American Law Institute, and has served on the board of directors of the Campaign Legal Center and the American Constitution Society. Karlan was a participant in the Spring 2016 Democracy Alliance Conference, and is listed by Demand Justice on its Supreme Court shortlist.
Anne Milgram is Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration. She was most recently a professor at New York University School of Law, and special counsel to the law firm of Lowenstein Sandler LLP. Milgram served as Attorney General of New Jersey from 2007 to 2010, as a federal prosecutor at the U.S. Department of Justice from 2001 to 2005, and as an assistant district attorney from 1997 to 2001. From 2011 to 2015 she was head of the criminal justice initiative at the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. She is a member of the American Law Institute, and has served on the boards of Covenant House International, the Century Foundation, the Center for Policing Equity, and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
Lisa Monaco is Deputy Attorney General. She was most recently a partner at the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers, where she co-chaired the firm’s data security and privacy group. During the Obama Administration, she served as Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor from 2013-2017, and before that as Assistant Attorney General for National Security and Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice. She also formerly served as counsel and Chief of Staff at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and as an Assistant United States Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. She has served on the boards of Accenture Federal Services, Cognosante LLC, and Hostage US, and has been a distinguished senior fellow at New York University School of Law and a nonresident senior fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center on Science and International Affairs. She has been a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense, and has co-chaired the Aspen Institute’s Cybersecurity Group. Monaco was also a Principal at WestExec Advisors.
Steven Dettelbach is Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. He was formerly a partner at the law firm of BakerHostetler, serving as co-leader of the firm’s white collar, investigations and securities enforcement and litigation team. Before that, he was a United States attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, and during the Obama Administration he was appointed to the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee. Prior to that, he had been at BakerHostetler since 2006, and also served as an assistant United States attorney. Dettelbach was the Democratic Party’s nominee for Attorney General of Ohio in 2018, ultimately losing the election to Republican Dave Yost.
Paul Monteiro is Director of the Community Relations Service. He most recently served as chief of staff and assistant vice president of external affairs at Howard University. During the Obama Administration, he served first as an associate director of the Office of Public Engagement, and later as director of AmeriCorps VISA and as head of the Community Relations Service. He worked in then-Senator Barack Obama’s Washington, D.C. office in 2006, and subsequently on Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. He has served as a member of the Prince George’s County Public Schools board of education, the Wesley Theological Seminary board of governors, and as a board member of Helping Children Worldwide.
Christopher Schroeder is Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel. He is a former law professor at Duke University. During the Obama Administration, he served as Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Policy, and was also a former chief counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. He is a former member scholar at the Center for Progressive Reform.