Joseph L. Tauro
|Joseph Louis Tauro|
|Senior Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts|
September 26, 2013
|Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts|
October 17, 1972 – September 26, 2013
|Appointed by||Richard Nixon|
|Preceded by||Francis J. W. Ford|
|Succeeded by||Leo T. Sorokin|
|United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts|
|Preceded by||James N. Gabriel|
|Succeeded by||James N. Gabriel|
September 26, 1931 |
|Alma mater||Brown University
Cornell Law School
Born in Winchester, Massachusetts in 1931, Tauro received an A.B. from Brown University in 1953 and an LL.B. from Cornell Law School in 1956. He was a First Lieutenant in the United States Army from 1956 to 1958, and was an assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts from 1959 to 1960. He was in private practice in Boston and Lynn, Massachusetts, from 1960 to 1971. He was a chief legal counsel to the Governor of Massachusetts, John A. Volpe, from 1965 to 1968. He was the United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts in 1972.
On September 12, 1972, Tauro was nominated by President Richard M. Nixon to a seat on the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts vacated by Francis J. W. Ford. Tauro was confirmed by the United States Senate on October 12, 1972, and received his commission on October 17, 1972. He served as chief judge from 1992 to 1999. Tauro took senior status effective September 26, 2013, retaining approximately a 60% caseload with a focus on criminal cases. Until taking senior status, Tauro was the longest-serving active judge appointed by Nixon. 
On July 8, 2010, in the cases of Gill v. Office of Personnel Management and Massachusetts v. United States Department of Health and Human Services, Tauro issued decisions holding unconstitutional that part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that defined marriage "as a legal union exclusively between one man and one woman." Those decisions were affirmed by the First Circuit Court of Appeals, but certiorari was denied after the Supreme Court issued its opinion in United States v. Windsor.
- "Groundbreaking Federal Judge to Step Back" Boston Globe
- New York Times: Abbey Goodnough and John Schwartz, "Judge Topples U.S. Rejection of Gay Unions," July 8, 2010, accessed July 10, 2010
- See Massachusetts v. U.S. Dep't of Health & Human Servs., 682 F.3d 1 (1st Cir. 2012) cert. denied, 133 S. Ct. 2884, 186 L. Ed. 2d 933 (U.S. 2013) and cert. denied, 133 S. Ct. 2887 (U.S. 2013) and cert. denied, 133 S. Ct. 2887 (U.S. 2013)
- Joseph L. Tauro at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
- Gill v. OPM, 1:09-cv-10309-JLT, (D.Mass. July 8, 2010), at 38. Available at online
- Mass. v. US Dept. Available online