Rep. Kennedy, Chairman Foster
Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III
“What American justice was built to be.” (Congressman Kennedy’s remarks, Video clip 1)
“Your country needs you.” (Congressman Kennedy’s remarks, Video clip 2)
Revised-April 5, 2017: In well-received keynote remarks delivered at New England Law | Boston’s 2017 Law Day Banquet, US Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III said that the work of attorneys “…has never been more critical…” and that those in attendance need to lead the fight in support of equal protection under the law.
“Today, a sense of profound inequity permeates our most sacred institutions, weaving itself deep into the very core of this democracy,” said Congressman Kennedy, now in his third term serving the Fourth District of Massachusetts. “A belief that our country will defend some but not others; that equal protection is not a promise but a privilege.
“For those of us who carry a JD after our name…this is our fight.”
Congressman Kennedy was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree during the event, which is a highlight of the New England Law experience and was attended by students, faculty, staff, alumni, judges, and other representatives of the Massachusetts legal and civic community, many of whom are long-time supporters and friends of the law school. Martin C. Foster, chairman of the New England Law Board of Trustees, presented the honorary degree.
“We were fortunate to have such a prominent and dynamic public servant celebrate our signature annual event with us,” said Dean John F. O’Brien. “Congressman Kennedy’s experience as a prosecutor, his commitment to social justice, and his advocacy on behalf of his constituents made him an inspiring example for our students.”
Congressman Kennedy saluted New England Law’s century of leadership in the fight for legal equality. “Women walked your halls before they could enter a voting booth,” he noted, highlighting New England Law’s founding as an institution that offered a legal education exclusively to women at a time when most other institutions would not accept them at all. “African-American students sat in your classrooms before they were legally allowed to sit in the front of the bus. To this day, and to [your] credit, you admit applicants based on their achievements, not their ability to afford admission.”
Congressman Kennedy calls on New England Law students to join the fight for equal justice.
Congressman Kennedy is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and his legislative priorities include mental health and addiction, energy costs, manufacturing, and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education. He has also worked to implement benefits for former nuclear workers, innovative economic development strategies, protections for consumers, and initiatives to honor veterans.
Before his election to Congress, Congressman Kennedy served as an assistant district attorney for Middlesex County and for Cape and Islands, where he served under District Attorney Michael O’Keefe ’81. Previously he was a member of the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic. He has a bachelor’s degree in management science and engineering from Stanford University and a JD from Harvard Law School.
The Law Day banquet at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel was attended by many leaders of the Massachusetts legal community including Chief Judge Patti B. Saris, US District Court for the District of Massachusetts, who will deliver the law school’s Commencement keynote address on May 19; Hon. Edward F. Harrington, Senior Judge, US District Court for the District of Massachusetts; former US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz ’12 (honorary); Supreme Judicial Court Justice Robert J. Cordy ’04 (honorary) (retired); Supreme Judicial Court Justice Judith A. Cowin ’02 (honorary) (retired); Supreme Judicial Court Justice David A. Lowy; Chief Justice Paula M. Carey ’86, Massachusetts Trial Court; Chief Justice Judith C. Cutler, Massachusetts Land Court Department; Chief Justice Amy L. Nechtem, Massachusetts Juvenile Court; and William B. Evans, Commissioner, Boston Police Department.
Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, Jr., was the Law Day speaker in 2016. Previous speakers have included US Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy, Sandra Day O’Connor, Clarence Thomas, and Harry Blackmun; United States Attorney General Janet Reno; Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justices Margaret H. Marshall and Roderick L. Ireland; Chief United Nations Weapons Inspector Dr. Hans Blix; and Massachusetts Senators John Kerry and Scott Brown.