Thomas Balmer is the Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court. He was elected by his colleagues as Oregon’s 43rd Chief Justice and began service on May 1, 2012. He was first appointed to the Supreme Court by Governor John Kitzhaber in 2001; he was elected in 2002 and re-elected in 2008 and 2014. Chief Justice Balmer practiced with the Portland law firm of Ater Wynne LLP and its predecessor firm, Lindsay, Hart, Neil & Weigler from 1982-93 and 1997-2001, and also served as Managing Partner. He was Deputy Attorney General of Oregon (1993-97) under Attorney General Theodore R. Kulongoski. Earlier in his career, he was an associate with Wald, Harkrader & Ross (Washington, D.C.) (1980-82), a Trial Attorney with the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (1979-80), and an associate with the Boston firm of Choate, Hall & Stewart (1977-79). Chief Justice Balmer received his J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School in 1977 and his A.B. from Oberlin College in 1974. He has been as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Northwestern School of Law of Lewis & Clark College and an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Lewis & Clark College. He is the author of numerous articles, book reviews, book chapters and op-ed columns on antitrust, constitutional law and other topics.
Chief Justice Balmer’s law-related activities include serving as Chair (1992-93) and Board Member (1989-93) of Multnomah County Legal Aid Service, Inc.; Chair (2007-09) and Board Member (1999 to present) of Classroom Law Project; and Board Member (2004-11) of the Oregon Law Institute. He currently serves on the Advisory Committee of the Campaign for Equal Justice and the University of Chicago Law School Public Interest Advisory Committee. Chief Justice Balmer has participated in various international legal programs, including lecturing on judicial ethics in Tashkent, Uzbekistan (under the auspices of the United Nations); working with judges and schools on law-related education in Zagreb, Croatia, and speaking to judges and court administrators through the Russian-American Rule of Law Consortium. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Conference of Chief Justices and is Chair of the Civil Justice Improvements Committee, a broad-based two year project that will study and make recommendations to reduce cost and delay in civil cases. In the wider community, Chief Justice Balmer has been a volunteer the Goose Hollow Family Shelter since 1994 and served as a founding Board Member (2000-01) of the Portland Parks Foundation and as a Board Member of Chamber Music Northwest (1997-2003). He has coached youth soccer and lacrosse teams, served on several committees of the Portland City Club, and been a member of budget advisory committees for Metro and the City of Portland. Chief Justice Balmer was raised in Portland and attended Portland Public Schools. He is married to Mary Louise McClintock, Director of Education Programs for the Oregon Community Foundation. They have two adult children.