Franita Tolson

Interim Dean, USC Gould School of Law

Franita Tolson is interim dean and the George T. and Harriet E. Pfleger Chair in Law at the USC Gould School of Law. She also holds a courtesy faculty appointment in the Political Science and International Relations Department at the USC Dornsife College of Letter, Arts and Sciences.

Her 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, political parties, the Elections Clause, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments.

Her research has appeared or will appear in leading law reviews including the Yale Law JournalHarvard Law ReviewStanford Law ReviewCalifornia Law ReviewUniversity of Pennsylvania Law Review, and Vanderbilt Law Review. Tolson is one of the coauthors of the leading election law casebook, The Law of Democracy (Foundation Press, 6th ed., forthcoming 2022). Her forthcoming book, In Congress We Trust?: Enforcing Voting Rights from the Founding to the Jim Crow Era, will be published in 2023 by Cambridge University Press.

As a nationally recognized expert in election law, Tolson has written for or appeared as a commentator for various mass media outlets including The New York TimesThe Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street JournalReuters and Bloomberg Law. She has testified before Congress numerous times on voting rights issues. She has also authored a legal analysis for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, introduced by Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Richard Durbin, that would explicitly protect the right to vote. During the fall of 2020, Tolson worked as an election law analyst for CNN. She currently co-hosts an election themed podcast, Free and Fair with Franita and Foley, with Ned Foley of The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.

Prior to joining USC, Tolson was the Betty T. Ferguson Professor of Voting Rights at Florida State University College of Law and 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.

Tolson is a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, where she was the Walter V. Schaefer Visiting Professor of Law during the Spring 2021 academic quarter.