University of Wisconsin–Madison

Eric Holder Jr. to Class of 2016: "You are now stewards of our justice system"

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. told an audience of University of Wisconsin Law School graduates Friday, “As of today, you are no longer merely students of law. You are now stewards of our justice system.”

Eric H. Holder Jr. at UW Law School's 2016 Hooding Ceremony

On invitation from the graduating class, Holder spoke at this year's Hooding Ceremony, held May 13, 2016, at the Monona Terrace and Convention Center in Madison. The celebration is a special recognition for law school graduates, in which faculty members place the J.D. doctoral hood over the head of the graduate to signify his or her success in completing their degree.

In his address, Holder called UW Law a place that “produces consequential people: from Bob LaFollette to Tammy Baldwin, from Tommy Thompson to Vel Phillips, from Jim Sensenbrenner to Gaylord Nelson. People who considered things outside of themselves, people who thought, and think, about the common good. People who have made a difference. People you must emulate.”

UW Law students have a duty, and are the nation’s “surest hope,” to serve the cause of justice, Holder said. He spoke of hard-fought strides toward equality and opportunity for all, but he insisted that more must be done.

Specifically, he addressed the need to ensure the right to vote, “that most basic and important of uniquely American rights.” As attorney general, Holder was known to have prioritized enforcement of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Appointed by President Barack Obama, Holder was the third-longest serving attorney general in U.S. history and the first African-American to hold that office. After leaving the Justice Department, Holder returned as partner at Covington & Burling, where he had worked for eight years prior to holding his federal post.

Even when graduates go on to work in industry or private practice, “there’s always a way to be a public interest lawyer,” Holder said.

Tommy Thompson '66

Former Governor Tommy Thompson '66 delivers special remarks

In addition to Holder’s keynote, former Governor Tommy Thompson delivered special remarks at the ceremony. Wisconsin’s longest serving governor, Thompson held the office from 1987 to 2001, when President George W. Bush named him secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Thompson received his bachelor’s and law degrees from UW-Madison in 1963 and 1966, respectively. UW-Madison awarded him an honorary degree at a commencement ceremony for doctoral and master’s degree candidates held Friday evening.

Video of the 2016 Hooding Ceremony is available online.


Submitted by Law School News on May 19, 2016

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