The content of this article is more than 5 years old. Please be aware that information provided may no longer be accurate, up-to-date, or relevant.

The University of Wisconsin Law School is saddened by the death of retired Chief Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court Nathan S. Heffernan, who died unexpectedly in Madison on April 13, 2007, at age 86.

A native of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, Heffernan graduated from the Law School in 1948, and remained a friend of the school throughout his distinguished career as an attorney in private practice, Sheboygan City Attorney, Wisconsin Deputy Attorney General, U.S. Attorney, and Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice for a period of 31 years. He became Chief Justice in 1983, holding the position until his retirement in 1995.

Recognized as a prominent liberal on the Court, Heffernan was also known for his ability to work with his more conservative colleagues to build consensus and maintain collegiality. A concern for individual rights, humanity, and the environment were hallmarks of his judicial philosophy.

Heffernan was a strong supporter of the 1978 court reorganization that created an intermediate Court of Appeals and merged the county and circuit courts. He was an advocate of women’s rights, and hired the first woman law clerk to serve on the Court.

Also known for his scholarship, Heffernan was a lecturer at the Law School for many years.

The family of Justice Heffernan suggests that memorials be made to the University of Wisconsin Law School (975 Bascom Mall, Madison, WI 53706, c/o Ann Flynn) or the Wisconsin Historical Society (816 State Street, Madison, WI 53703).


Submitted by on April 17, 2007

This article appears in the categories: Articles