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Reed College Graduate Who Led Supreme Court Challenge of State Anti-Sodomy Laws to Speak at 2007 Commencement


Attorney William Hohengarten ’84 is chosen by graduating seniors to address Reed College’s 93rd annual commencement.


Portland, OR (April 18, 2007) – William Hohengarten, who clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter and subsequently led the pro bono legal team in the groundbreaking gay rights case Lawrence v. Texas, will address Reed College’s 93rd annual commencement on Monday, May 14. Hohengarten is a prominent Washington, D.C., attorney and a partner in the law firm Jenner & Block, where he handles a range of corporate, regulatory, and appellate cases. A Reed graduate from the Class of 1984, Hohengarten is the 14th consecutive alumnus or alumna to deliver the college’s commencement address.

Hohengarten majored in history at Reed, studied in Germany on a Fulbright, and obtained a Ph.D. in philosophy at Northwestern University. He then attended Yale Law School, becoming notes editor at the Yale Law Journal; one of the notes he wrote is among the first attempts to lay out the legal arguments in favor of same-sex marriage. Hohengarten says he remains confident that same-sex marriage will take hold in the U.S., despite setbacks in recent years, as voters and legislators have banned state recognition of such marriages. “Same-sex marriage will slowly be recognized in more and more states, and as people get used to it, it will finally be recognized on a national level,” Hohengarten says.

After graduating from law school, Hohengarten clerked for Justice Souter for one year before entering private law practice. At Jenner & Block, Hohengarten worked with the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, leading the team that wrote the petition for certiorari and merits briefs that resulted in the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling overturning Texas’s law against “homosexual conduct.” The 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas overruled the Court’s earlier decision in Bowers v. Hardwick.

Hohengarten is a member of Jenner & Block’s litigation department, concentrating his practice in appellate and Supreme Court matters as well as legal and factual development in complex litigation. He has made major contributions in cases involving intellectual property, antitrust, commercial law, contract, fraud, trade secrets, bankruptcy, administrative law, utility regulation, and a wide range of constitutional issues, including the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd. Hohengarten lives with his life partner, David Knudson, in Washington, D.C., and is an avid outdoorsman who has run seven marathons.