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October 16, 2008

Authors of The Miner’s Canary to Deliver Public Address October 23

Professors Lani Guinier and Gerald Torres Will Examine Effects of Social Movements on Public Policy and Law

Harvard University’s Lani Guinier and the University of Texas’s Gerald Torres will present a joint public lecture titled “Changing the Wind: The Demosprudence of Law and Social Movements,” at 7:00 p.m. Thursday, October 23, in Knight Law Center 175.

Professor Lani Guinier
Professor Gerald Torres

Sponsored by the Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics, the presentation will examine key social movements to show how citizens influence public policy and the law. They also will analyze the term, “Demosprudence,” which defines how ordinary citizens, through mobilized movements on both the left and the right, create new social meanings that are incorporated in law and public policy. The discussion will describe how the dynamic relationship between citizens and lawmaking in a democracy creates opportunities for new lawyers, activists, and policy makers. Historical examples, such as the Montgomery bus boycott, will be discussed to demonstrate the impact of social movements.

In their co-authored book, The Miner’s Canary: Enlisting Race, Resisting Power, Transforming Democracy (Harvard Press, 2002), Guinier and Torres examine ways to revitalize democracy through the participation of all citizens. In this work, they propose a dramatic, hopeful shift in race and politics in the United States.

In 1998, Professor Guinier became the first woman of color appointed to a tenured professorship at Harvard Law School and now serves as the school’s Bennett Boskey Professor of Law. Before entering academia, Guinier worked in the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice and then headed the voting rights project at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in the 1980s. She is the author of numerous scholarly articles and books on the issues of race, gender, and democratic decision-making.

Professor Torres is the Bryant Smith Chair in Law at the University of Texas School of Law. A leading figure in critical race theory, he also is an expert in agricultural and environmental law. Torres is the former president of the Association of American Law Schools, has served as deputy assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., and as counsel to then U.S. attorney general Janet Reno. In 2004, Professor Torres was honored with the Legal Service Award from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund for his work in advancing the legal rights of Latinos.

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