Bradley E. Heard is the deputy legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Voting Rights Practice Group. He leads a dynamic team of attorneys, analysts and advocates committed to carrying out the SPLC’s mission to protect democracy by ensuring fair and equal access to the ballot box for historically disenfranchised communities of color — particularly those communities in the Deep South.
Heard is an experienced civil rights litigator with more than 25 years’ experience practicing law in a variety of governmental and nongovernmental contexts. He comes to the SPLC after serving more than a decade as a trial attorney in the Voting Section of the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. Before he became a voting rights lawyer, his practice focused on employment law.
Heard’s first voting rights victory came in 2004 from his community service work with Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. He obtained an injunction against the state of Georgia, which was interfering with the fraternity’s voter registration work. At the Department of Justice, he successfully helped thwart efforts by Arizona, Kansas and Georgia to ignore voter registration applicants’ written attestations of U.S. citizenship under penalty of perjury and, instead, require documentary proof of citizenship, in violation of federal law.
He also successfully challenged the state of Louisiana’s failure or refusal to offer voter registration in connection with applications, renewals and changes of address for public assistance and disability services, as required by federal law.
Heard received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Morehouse College, where he graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. He earned his law degree from Yale Law School.