Date:  October 13, 2005                                                                     CONTACT:  Laura Kiernan
                                                                                    NH Judicial Branch
                                                                                                                               Communications Office
                                                                                                                                  271-2646 ext 359






CONCORD---U.S. Congressman Tom Lantos, co-chairman of the bi-partisan Congressional Human Rights Caucus, will deliver the John W. King Memorial Lecture on October 24, 2005 at the New Hampshire Supreme Court.

         Lantos, the ranking Democratic member of the House International Relations Committee, is serving his thirteenth term in the US House of Representatives, representing the 12th district of California. Born in Budapest, Hungary, his personal story of survival during the Holocaust is included in the Academy Award winning documentary “The Last Days,” produced by The Shoah Foundation, a non-profit organization established by filmmaker Steven Spielberg in 1994 to document the experiences of Holocaust survivors and other witnesses.

            The Congressional Human Rights Caucus, which Lantos co-founded in 1983, holds briefings and other public events to call attention to international human rights issues. Subjects addressed by the caucus include social responsibility involving U.S. based companies overseas; human rights issues raised in drafting the new Iraqi constitution; the role of forensic science in promotion of human rights in Latin America; and reducing illegal small arms trade worldwide.

            This year, Congressman Lantos joined Congressman Frank Wolf of Virginia and Senators Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and John McCain of Arizona to introduce a bill that reaffirms the promotion of freedom and democracy as an essential element of U.S. foreign policy. Lantos also initiated efforts in Congress to impose economic sanctions on governments that have been suspected of human rights violations.

          The King lecture is co-sponsored by the New Hampshire Supreme Court and the New Hampshire Bar Foundation, which supports the event through a grant provided by Bar Foundation’s Advancement of Justice and Richard P. Dunfey Funds. The Bar Foundation, a non-profit, charitable foundation established in 1977, has funded the King lecture since it was launched in 1999. The intent of the King lecture is to promote public understanding of the role that the law plays in our society and throughout the world community. 

          Lantos has titled his lecture, “Human Rights: America’s Legacy in International Relations.” The first King lecture was delivered in 1999 by U.S. Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, a longtime member and former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who spoke about federal law and protections against domestic violence. The King lecture was delivered last year by Linda Greenhouse, who won a Pulitzer Prize for her coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court for the New York Times. She spoke about her work on a book based on the papers of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun.

          Congressman Lantos is the only Holocaust survivor ever elected to the United States Congress. A teenager during the Nazi Germany occupation in  Hungary, his family lost everything, and almost all of his relatives were killed. When he was 16-years-old, Lantos was sent to a forced labor camp from which he managed to escape – twice. He found protection in an apartment house leased by Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat and humanitarian who is credited with helping thousands of people live through the Holocaust. Lantos' early experiences had a profound effect on his worldview, solidifying his deep respect for human rights, and shaping his decisions for years to come.

          In 1947, Lantos was awarded an academic scholarship to study in the U.S., based on an essay he wrote about President Franklin Roosevelt. Lantos attended the University of Washington in Seattle, where he received a B.A. and M.A. in Economics.  He later received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1950.  From 1950 to 1980, he was a professor of economics, an international affairs analyst for public television and served in senior advisory roles to members of the US Senate.

        The King lecture program was established by the Supreme Court as an occasion to focus on contemporary legal topics of importance to political leaders and the community as well as to the legal profession.  The event is seen as an opportunity for the judiciary to strengthen its relationship with other branches of government and to the statewide community by providing a forum for sharing information about law and society.

         John W. King served as governor of New Hampshire from 1963 to 1969 and then served 10 years as a trial court judge before he was appointed to the New Hampshire Supreme Court.   He was named Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in 1981, a position he held until his retirement in 1986.  He died in 1996.

        Judges, lawyers, legislators and citizens from around the state have been invited to attend the event, which begins with a reception at 6:30 p.m. followed by the lecture.  For information about public seating, contact the Court Communications office at (603) 271-2646 ext. 362.