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College of Law

Florida State University



Franita Tolson

Franita Tolson

Betty T. Ferguson Professor of Voting Rights

Florida State University
College of Law
Roberts Hall, Room 323
Phone: 850.644.7402
Fax: 850.644.0576


J.D., University of Chicago, 2005
B.A./B.S. (History), cum laude, Truman State University, 2001

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Franita Tolson is the Betty T. Ferguson Professor of Voting Rights at Florida State University College of Law. Professor Tolson’s scholarship and teaching focus on the areas of election law, constitutional law, legal history and employment discrimination. She has written on a wide range of topics including partisan gerrymandering, campaign finance reform, the Elections Clause, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. Her forthcoming book, A Promise Unfulfilled: Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Future of the Right to Vote, will be published in 2017 by Cambridge University Press. Her research also has appeared in leading law reviews including the Vanderbilt Law Review, the Alabama Law Review, the Notre Dame Law Review, and the University of Pennsylvania Law Review Online. She has written or appeared as a commentator for various mass media outlets including The Huffington Post, Reuters, and Bloomberg Law.

Prior to joining the Florida State Law faculty, Professor Tolson was a visiting assistant professor at Northwestern University School of Law. Before entering academia, she clerked for the Honorable Ann Claire Williams of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and the Honorable Ruben Castillo of the Northern District of Illinois. Professor Tolson is a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, where she was a member of the University of Chicago Law Review and won the Thomas Mulroy Prize for Oral Advocacy in the Hinton Moot Court Competition.

Select Recent Publications

The Equal Sovereignty Principle as Election Law Federalism Doctrine, in American Federalism and Public Policy (Routledge) (forthcoming 2017)

Offering A New Vision for Equal Protection: The Story of Harper v. Virginia State Board of Elections, in Election Law Stories (Foundation Press 2016)

Introduction: The Law of Democracy at a Crossroads: Reflecting on Fifty Years of Voting Rights and the Judicial Regulation of the Political Thicket
, 43 Fla. St. U. L. Rev. _ (forthcoming 2016)

The Federalism Implications of Campaign Finance Regulation
, 164 U. Penn. L. Rev. Online 247 (2016)

What is Abridgment? A Critique of Two Section Twos, 67 Ala. L. Rev. 433 (2016)

Protecting Political Participation through the Voter Qualifications Clause of Article I, 56 B.C. L. Rev. 159 (2015)

The Constitutional Structure of Voting Rights Enforcement, 89 Wash. L. Rev. 379 (2014)

Congressional Authority to Protect Voting Rights after Shelby County and Arizona Inter Tribal, 13 Election L.J. 322 (2014)

Second Order Diverse in Name Only? Sovereign Authority in Disaggregated Institutions, 48 Tulsa L. Rev. 455 (2013)

The Union as a Safeguard Against Faction: Congressional Gridlock as State Empowerment, 88 Notre Dame L. Rev. 2267 (2013)