“She possesses immense credibility among law enforcement leaders and community leaders,” he added. “She is an effective communicator and a bridge builder.”
Ms. Gupta has drawn attacks from the Judicial Crisis Network, a high-profile conservative legal group closely associated with the Trump administration. Its primary attack ad shows images of violence during last year’s racial justice protests and implies that Ms. Gupta “supports defunding the police.”
Ms. Gupta has said that she does not support defunding the police. Asked for comment, a Justice Department spokeswoman referred back to the letters of support for Ms. Gupta by police officials and sheriffs.
The Judicial Crisis Network campaign, standing in opposition to the support of Ms. Gupta by mainstream law enforcement groups, shows a split among some conservatives over their willingness to work with the Biden administration on issues like criminal justice reform that have had bipartisan support. Former President Donald J. Trump signed a broad overhaul of the criminal justice system in 2018 that expanded job training and early-release programs and modified sentencing laws.
The Judicial Crisis Network is run by Carrie Severino, who emerged as a key voice urging the Trump administration to install more social conservatives in the federal courts. She and her husband, Roger Severino, are one of Washington’s most influential conservative couples.
“It seems to me they made a strategic decision that ‘weak on crime,’ despite being blatantly false, was a better way to fire up the Trump base,” said Tom Carter, who worked on religious liberty cases with Mr. Severino and with a group that worked closely with the Judicial Crisis Network.
Ms. Severino did not respond to an email seeking comment. Mr. Severino said that he and his wife keep their work lives separate, and that he learned about the Judicial Crisis Network campaign against Ms. Gupta from news reports. He had no comment on it.
While the Judicial Crisis Network is not known for taking a strong stance on policing issues, it is little surprise that Ms. Severino would oppose Ms. Gupta’s nomination. The group has pushed for the Supreme Court to rule against measures that would expand gay rights, and Ms. Gupta was the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division in the final years of the Obama administration while the department broadly supported extending those protections. The Trump administration pared back those protections, but that could be reassessed under the Biden administration.