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April 19, 2006

Press Contact: Kirston Fortune, Assistant Dean for Communications, 512-471-7330.
Event Contact: Amber Pickett, UT Law Chapter, American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, (713) 826-9903 (cell) or apickett@mail.utexas.edu.

UT Student Groups Sponsor Talk on the Politicization of the U.S. Department of Justice, April 21

What: A discussion on politics at the DOJ and its effect on enforcement of U.S. civil rights laws.
When:
Friday, April 21, at 12 p.m.
Where: TNH 2.124 , UT School of Law (For directions go to: http://www.utexas.edu/law/about/parking.html.)
Who: The public is invited to this event.

AUSTIN, Texas — Attorneys Mark Posner and Gerry Hebert will discuss the politicization of the U.S. Department of Justice and its effect on the nation’s civil rights laws on Friday, April 21, at The University of Texas School of Law. The event, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 12 p.m. in Townes Hall Room 2.124 .

The event is sponsored by the UT Chapter of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, the Thurgood Marshall Legal Society, the Chicano/Hispanic Law Students Association, and the LBJ School of Public Affairs’s Progressive Collective.

Over the past year, news reports have intimated the increasing role of political appointees at the U.S. Department of Justice, particularly within the Civil Rights Division. Posner and Hebert, each of whom worked at the DOJ for over 20 years, will address whether this is a real phenomenon. In particular, the speakers will explore whether such politicization has affected enforcement of the nation’s civil rights laws. Posner will focus on Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act and Hebert will focus on the Texas redistricting case.

Posner served as an attorney in the Civil Rights Division of DOJ from 1980 to 2003, and assisted in supervising the Division’s reviews of Section 5 pre-clearance submissions from the mid-1980s to 1995. He is currently an independent consultant and an adjunct professor of law at American University’s Washington College of Law and the University of Maryland School of Law. In January 2006, Posner published a paper entitled “The Politicization of Justice Department Decision-making Under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act: Is it a Problem and What Should Congress Do?” which provides an in-depth analysis of the issue of politicization and potential remedies to counter such political considerations in the Section 5 decision-making process.

Hebert served as an attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ from 1973 to 1994, and held various posts including acting chief, deputy chief and special litigation counsel in the Voting Section. He has served as lead attorney or chief trial counsel in numerous voting rights and redistricting lawsuits. From 1994 to 1995, Hebert served as a part-time attorney for the national office of the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights under Law. He also served as General Counsel to IMPAC 2000, the national redistricting project for Congressional Democrats, from 1999 to 2002. Hebert is currently an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center and a sole practitioner in Alexandria, Virginia, specializing in election law and redistricting. He served as the lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the case, now pending before the United States Supreme Court, challenging the 2003 re-redistricting of the congressional districts in Texas.