University of Wisconsin–Madison

The Robert W. Kastenmeier Lecture

2018 Robert W. Kastenmeier Lecture

Justice Shirley Abrahamson, Wisconsin Supreme Court


Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson

Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson was appointed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 1976. She was elected to ten-year terms in 1979, 1989, 1999 and 2009, serving as chief justice from 1996 to 2015. She earned an A.B. magna cum laude from New York University in 1953, a J.D. with high distinction from Indiana University Law School in 1956, and an S.J.D. in American legal history from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1962. She holds numerous awards, including 15 honorary doctor of laws degrees. Before her appointment, she practiced law in Madison for 14 years, taught on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin Law School and lectured at Marquette University Law School.  

Justice Abrahamson is a past president of the Conference of Chief Justices, a past chair of the board of directors of the National Center for State Courts, and presently serves on the council of the American Law Institute (emeritus), the board of directors of the Institute of Judicial Administration at New York University School of Law, the National Board of Academic Advisors of the William H. Rehnquist Center on the Constitutional Structures of Government, and the advisory board of the National Institute of Corrections Evidence-Based Decision Making Project. She was chair of the National Institute of Justice National Commission on the Future of DNA Evidence and was on the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Science, Technology and Law. 

Justice Abrahamson is featured in Great American Judges: An Encyclopedia (John R. Vile ed. 2003) and listed in The Lawdragon 500 Leading Lawyers in America (2005, 2011) and The Lawdragon 500 Leading Judges in America (2006).

About the Kastenmeier Lecture

Robert Kastenmeier

This lecture is supported by the fund established to honor Robert W. Kastenmeier, an outstanding graduate of University of Wisconsin Law School, who served with great distinction in the United States Congress from 1958 to 1990. During his tenure, Congressman Kastenmeier made special contributions to the improvement of the judiciary and to the field of intellectual property law. He drafted the rules for the House Committee on the Judiciary that were used for the impeachment of President Richard M. Nixon, as well as the articles of impeachment against Judge Harry Claiborne. In 1985, Congressman Kastenmeier received the Warren E. Burger Award, presented by the Institute for Court Management, and the Service Award of the National Center for State Courts. In 1988, American Judicature Society honored him with its Justice Award for his contributions to improving the administration of justice.

The Kastenmeier Fund was created to recognize these contributions by fostering important legal scholarship in the fields of intellectual property, corrections, administration of justice, and civil liberties. It is a fitting tribute to the leadership of Robert W. Kastenmeier in these areas.

View a complete list of Kastenmeier lectures

2017 Maria A. Pallante, "I am the Captain Now: Resisting Piracy and Contortion in the Copyright Marketplace"
2016 Sonia Sotomayor, "A Discussion with Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Supreme Court of the United States"
2015 James Sensenbrenner, "A History of the USA FREEDOM Act"
2014 Bryan Stevenson, "Just Mercy: Confronting Mass Incarceration and Excessive Punishment in America"                                
2013 John Dean, "Crossing the Line: Watergate, the Criminal Law and Ethics"
2012 Mark A. Lemley, "Software Patents and the Return of  Functional Claiming"
2011 Barbara Crabb, "Bridging the Divide between Congress and the Courts"
2010 Bob Herbert, "Afghanistan: What Are We Fighting For?"
2009 Walter Dickey, Cecelia Klingele and Michael Scott, "Re-Imagining Criminal Justice:  Implications for Practice, Research and Teaching"
2008 David Obey, "Economic Injustice"
2007 Harold Hongju Koh, Tom Petri, and Russ Feingold, "The National Security Constitution in a Time of Terror"
2006 Carl Gulbrandsen (with remarks from Birch Bayh), "The Law in Action: What the Bayh-Dole Act Means to the University of Wisconsin and the State of Wisconsin and an Effective National Science Policy"
2005 George McGovern, "The Iraq War: Lessons from the Past"
2004 Frank Tuerkheimer, "Civil Rights Act of 1964: Hopes and Promises"
Roger Wilkins, "Bob Kastenmeier and 1960s Civil Rights Legislation: Leadership Through Commitment and Foresight"
2003 Lawrence Lessig, "The Forgotten Balance of Robert Kastenmeier"
2002 Anthony Lewis, "Civil Liberties in a Time of Terror"
2001 Douglas Berman, Michael Smith, John Steer, and moderator Thomas W. Hutchison, "Sentencing Criminals: After a Quarter Century of Reform, Where Are We?"
2000 Martin Abrams, Deirdre Mulligan, Paul Schwartz, and moderator Robert Gellman, "From the Bill of Rights to the Internet: Protecting Privacy Rights and Interests in the New Millennium"
1999 Robert Drinan, Michael Gerhardt, Stanley Kutler, Frank Tuerkheimer, and moderator David Broder, "From Watergate to the Present: Impeachment, Presidential Accountability, and the Separation of Powers"
1997 Paul Goldstein, "The Transformation of American Copyright Law"
1996 Abner J. Mikva, "Political Extremism: Is It New, Is It Worse, Is It Curable?"
1995 Symposium: "Is Effective Crime Policy Possible?"
1993 Symposium: "Computer Software Protection: Reinventing Intellectual Property"
1992 William H. Rehnquist, "Seen in a Glass Darkly: The Future of the Federal Court"

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