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Newton N. Minow to Give Keynote Address at Fellows of the American Bar Foundation Business Breakfast

July 22, 2015, Press releases


Contact:         Kathryn Harris
Phone:           312.988.6515
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Renowned lawyer and national civic leader to speak on law and presidential debates

CHICAGO, July 22, 2015 – American Bar Foundation Life Fellow Newton N. Minow, senior counsel at Sidley Austin LLP, will deliver the keynote speech at The Fellows of the American Bar Foundation Annual Business Breakfast on Aug. 1, 7:30-9:30 a.m., at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. The breakfast is one of several events hosted by the Fellows during the 2015 American Bar Association Annual Meeting and is sponsored by Sidley Austin. The title of Minow’s talk is “The Law and the Presidential Televised Debates.”

Minow served as law clerk to Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson of the U.S. Supreme Court and as assistant counsel to Illinois Gov. Adlai E. Stevenson.  He was a partner in the law firm of Stevenson, Rifkind & Wirtz when, in 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed him chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Minow gained fame that same year when he delivered the speech, “Television and the Public Interest” at the convention of the National Association of Broadcasters. It was in this speech, calling for more programming dedicated to the public interest, that he famously referred to commercial television as “a vast wasteland.”

Minow’s achievements while chair of the FCC led to the passing of legislation clearing the way for communications satellites, anticipating the wave of future telecommunications advances that are prevalent today.

He served in the Kennedy administration until 1963 when he became executive vice president and general counsel of Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.  In 1965, he joined the law firm of Leibman, Williams, Bennett, Baird & Minow, which merged with Sidley & Austin in 1972. 

Minow is credited with helping to create the concept of the televised presidential debate with Adlai Stevenson in 1955, and has played a central role in shaping them over the past five decades. He served as co-chair of the presidential debates in 1976 and 1980; and he helped create and is the former co-chairman of the Commission on Presidential Debates, which has organized the debates for the last two decades.

Throughout his distinguished career, Minow has been a director of many companies including Aon Corporation, CBS, Sara Lee Corporation, Foote, Cone & Belding, Manpower Inc. and the Tribune Company. In addition, he is a former chairman of The RAND Corporation, trustee emeritus of the Mayo Clinic, a life trustee of Northwestern University and the University of Notre Dame, a former trustee and chairman of the Carnegie Corporation and former chairman of the Public Broadcasting Service.

Minow has received many awards throughout his career, including the American Bar Association Silver Gavel Award, the Chicago Bar Association John Paul Stevens Award, Federal Communications Bar Association Lifetime Achievement Award and the American Lawyer Lifetime Achievement Award.

In 2014, Northwestern University established the Newton N. Minow professorship at the School of Law. He currently serves as Honorary Consul General in Chicago of the Republic of Singapore.

Minow earned his bachelor’s degree in 1949 and his J.D. in 1950, both from Northwestern. He currently is the Walter Annenberg Professor Emeritus at Northwestern University.

Mr. Minow has written five books and numerous magazine articles. He lives with his wife, Josephine (“Jo”), in Chicago. They have three daughters, Nell, Martha and Mary.

“The Fellows are honored to have Newton Minow as our keynote speaker at the Annual Business Breakfast in his hometown of Chicago,” said Kathleen Hopkins, chair of the Fellows. “Chair Minow’s leadership, his commitment to the public good, and his extraordinary and prescient vision for the future are directly responsible for the advances in mass communications we take for granted today.” She added, “The Fellows will be treated to a fascinating talk by the person who has been called, ‘the father of presidential debates.’”

Program details:      

WHAT:           The Fellows of the American Bar Foundation Annual Business Breakfast
WHEN:           Aug. 1, 7:30-9:30 a.m.
WHERE:        Hyatt Regency Chicago
                        Crystal Ballroom A, Green Level, West Tower
                        151 E. Upper Wacker Drive
                        Chicago, IL 60601

This is a ticketed event. Please click here for registration information. For general event information, contact or call 800-292-5065.

The Fellows of the American Bar Foundation is an honorary organization of lawyers, judges, and legal scholars whose public and private careers have demonstrated outstanding dedication to the welfare of their communities and to the highest principles of the legal profession.

The American Bar Foundation’s mission is to serve the legal profession, the public, and the academy through empirical research, publications, and programs that advance justice and the understanding of law and its impact on society. Primary funding for the ABF is provided by The Fellows of the American Bar Foundation and the American Bar Endowment


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