News of the Collegespring2007

2007 Commencement Speaker
Is Prominent Washington Attorney

  William Hohengarten ’84 image

William Hohengarten ’84 clerked at the U.S. Supreme Court, then returned to help overturn laws against homosexuality.Photo Credit: Moshe B. Zusman


William Hohengarten ’84, 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, addressed Reed’s 93rd annual commencement on Monday, May 14. He was chosen on the recommendation of the graduating class of 2007. Hohengarten is a partner in the Washington, D.C., law firm Jenner & Block, where he handles a range of corporate, regulatory, and appellate cases. He 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.

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. He has made major contributions in cases involving intellectual property, antitrust, commercial law, 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.