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College of Public Policy

Distinguished Lecture Series

On November 1st, the College of Public Policy hosted Mr. John Tanner for the first in this academic year’s Distinguished Lecture Series. Tanner is a former Chief of the Voting Section of the Justice’s Department’s Civil Rights Division.

For many years, Mr. Tanner was the principal Justice Department attorney for voting rights enforcement in Alabama and Mississippi. He became Section Chief in 2005 and initiated a record-breaking initiative to protect the rights of Latinos and other language minority citizens. Mr. Tanner has been a Visiting Fellow at the Alabama Law Institute and has been honored by more minority community groups than any Justice Department attorneys. He was the 2004 recipient of the John Doar Award, the Civil Rights Division’s highest honor.

Mr. Tanner reviewed the history of voting rights abuses, and emphasized the significance of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. He discussed the flaws in some of the current attempts at voter identification laws, and explained how the legal and political landscape might change if the Voting Rights Act is scaled back by the U.S. Supreme Court.

This was an important contribution to this series of lectures by the College, which aims to bring experts on the policy issues of our day to this campus. Mr. Tanner is in private practice and has been representing the Texas Legislative Black Caucus in the successful Texas redistricting and Voter Identification cases.


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