2019 Kastenmeier Lecture

Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

Godfrey & Kahn Hall, Room 2260
4 p.m., Friday, November 1, 2019

photo of Vanita GuptaVanita Gupta is president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States. Before joining The Leadership Conference in June 2017, Gupta served as Acting Assistant Attorney General and head of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. Appointed in October 2014 by President Barack Obama as the chief civil rights prosecutor for the United States, Gupta oversaw a wide range of criminal and civil enforcement efforts to ensure equal justice and protect equal opportunity for all during one of the most consequential periods for the division. Under Gupta’s leadership, the division did critical work in a number of areas, including advancing constitutional policing and criminal justice reform; prosecuting hate crimes and human trafficking; promoting disability rights; protecting the rights of LGBTQ individuals; ensuring voting rights for all; and combating discrimination in education, housing, employment, lending, and religious exercise.

Prior to joining the Justice Department, Gupta served as Deputy Legal Director and the Director of the Center for Justice at the American Civil Liberties Union, where she launched the Smart Justice Campaign to end mass incarceration. She joined the ACLU in 2006 as a staff attorney. Gupta began her legal career at the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, where she litigated a series of landmark wrongful drug conviction cases in Tulia, Texas. Gupta graduated magna cum laude from Yale University and received her law degree from New York University School of Law, where later she taught a civil rights litigation clinic for several years.

About the Kastenmeier Lecture

Robert KastenmeierThis 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

2018 Shirley S. Abrahamson, “A Conversation with Justice Shirley Abrahamson”
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"

Digital Repository

Check out the UW Law School Digital Repository for more about past Kastenmeier Lectures »

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