Lani Guinier, lawyer at the Center of Controversy, dies at 71

Lani Guinier, lawyer at the Center of Controversy, dies at 71

Ms. Guinier married Nolan Bowie, a fellow professor and lawyer, in 1986. He outlives her, as do her sisters, Clotilde Guinier Stenson, Sary Guinier, and Marie Guinier; her son, Nikolas Bowie, also a law professor at Harvard; her stepdaughter, Dana Rice; and a granddaughter.

After an internship with a US District Court judge in Michigan and a year working with juvenile offenders in Detroit, Ms. Guinier moved to Washington to work for the Department of Justice. She left in 1981, when President Ronald Reagan took office, and for most of that decade she led the Voting Rights Project of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

Ms. Guinier became an aggressive trial attorney, traveling to Alabama in 1985, for example, where she, along with Deval Patrick, the future governor of Massachusetts, led the defense in a voting trial against Jeff Sessions, the future senator and attorney general who was then a U.S. attorney. used to be. Her team won an acquittal.

“She was easily one of the most innovative thinkers on voting rights,” Sherrilyn Ifill, the outgoing head of the Legal Defense Fund, said in a telephone interview.

Ms. Guinier left the Defense Fund for a position at the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1989. There she began to translate her experience defending voting rights into ideas about how to reform the system.

For example, she argued that just having a voice was not enough for minorities, especially those from oppressed classes. She proposed a variety of alternatives, such as cumulative voting, where people are given a number of votes to distribute as they please — a process that could allow minority voters to focus their support on a single candidate and thus increase their influence. to enlarge as a block .

“Her concern was that every vote counts the same as the next vote, and the normal district process doesn’t create that,” Gerald Torres, a Yale Law School professor and frequent contributor, said on the phone.

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Rachel Meadows

Rachel Meadows

Trending topics news writer who enjoys cooking, walking her dog and travel.

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