Stacey Plaskett was born on May 13, 1966 in Brooklyn, New York. Her parents hail from St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, and immigrated to New York during the 1950s. Plaskett earned a BS degree from Georgetown University in 1988 and a JD from American University College of Law in 1994. Thereafter, she worked variously as an assistant district attorney in the Bronx; a consultant and legal counsel for the Mitchell Madison Group; counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Ethics Committee; and senior counsel to the deputy attorney general at the U.S. Department of Justice (2002-04). During her tenure with the DOJ, Plaskett worked on the Terrorism Litigation Task Force and the September 11th Victims’ Compensation Fund. She was also one of the lead attorneys in U.S. v. Phillip Morris, where the federal government “brought suit against nine tobacco companies and two related entities … to recover health care expenditures [it] has paid for or will pay for to treat tobacco-related injuries.” From 2007-14, Plaskett served as general counsel with the U.S. Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority.
Plaskett attempted to launch a political career in 2012 when she challenged nine-term incumbent Donna Christian-Christensen in the Democratic Party‘s primary race for the office of Delegate to Congress representing the U.S. Virgin Islands, but she lost by a margin of 57.5% to 42.5%. Plaskett again ran for that same office two years later and emerged victorious, thereby becoming a non-voting member of the U.S. House of Representatives. She also belongs to the Congressional Black Caucus.
In March 2015, Plaskett went to the House floor to condemn the fact that the 4.1 million people living in U.S. island territories were not allowed to vote for president or to have a voting representative in Congress. “As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Selma this week and the subsequent passage of the Voting Rights Act,” she said, “there are still American citizens today who do not have equal voting rights. These are citizens of America’s island territories—the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Northern Marianas.”
In April 2015, Plaskett joined numerous other House Democrats in endorsing a legal amicus brief supporting President Barack Obama’s recent executive actions designed to prevent the deportation of millions of illegal immigrants—Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA).
That same month, Plaskett participated in a Howard University panel that discussed why the deaths of black Americans—whether as victims of crime or at the hands of police—generally did not spark more outrage across the United States. The Howard event was held against the backdrop of the high-profile deaths of Missourian Michael Brown and New Yorker Eric Garner, two black men who had died in altercations with white police officers in the summer of 2014. “Some lives are more valuable than others,” said Plaskett wryly.
Further Reading: “Stacey Plaskett” (Plaskett.house.gov, Ballotpedia.org, Votesmart.org); “Plaskett Appears in HBO TV Clip Highlighting Voting Rights for Citizens in U.S. Territories” (Viconsortium.com, 3-10-2015); “Dems: Immigration Actions Are Legal” (The Hill, 4-6-2015).