Thomas A. Balmer

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Thomas A. Balmer
Thomas A. Balmer bar ceremony 2009.JPG
Balmer in 2009
42nd Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court
Assumed office
Preceded by Paul De Muniz
96th Associate Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court
Assumed office
Appointed by John Kitzhaber
Preceded by Ted Kulongoski
Personal details
Born (1952-01-31) January 31, 1952 (age 65)
Longview, Washington, U.S.
Alma mater Oberlin College
University of Chicago Law School

Thomas "Tom" A. Balmer (born January 31, 1952) is the Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court. A native of Washington, he was appointed to the court in 2001 as an Associate Justice, and became Chief Justice in 2012.

Early life[edit]

Justice Balmer was born on January 31, 1952,[1] in Longview, Washington, a community located on the Columbia River and the border of Oregon.[2] He attended and graduated from high school in Portland, Oregon, and the now defunct Jackson High School.[3][4]

Balmer graduated from Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio in 1974, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree and earned High Honors.[2] Balmer then attended law school, graduating from the University of Chicago Law School in 1977.[2]

Legal career[edit]

Balmer began his public legal career as a trial lawyer for the U.S. Department of Justice from 1979 to 1980.[5] Working in Washington, D.C., he was part of the Antitrust Division.[5] Balmer taught at Lewis & Clark Law School from 1983 to 1984, and again from 1990 to 1992 as an adjunct professor.[5] From 1986 to 1987 he was the chairperson of the Oregon State Bar antitrust law section, and in 1992 to 1993 he was chairperson of the Multnomah County Legal Aid Service’s Board of Directors.[2]

Later he served as a deputy attorney general for the state of Oregon from 1993 to 1997.[5] While there he worked for the Oregon Attorney General, Ted Kulongoski.[6] Balmer is a former partner of Ater Wynne LLP, focusing on antitrust law, government regulations, and commercial litigation.[5] In 1997, he became a member of the board of directors for Classroom Law Project, and from 2000 to 2001, he served as an adjunct professor of political science at Lewis & Clark College, 2000-2001.[5]

On September 20, 2001 Balmer was appointed to the Oregon Supreme Court, becoming the 96th justice.[7] Governor John Kitzhaber appointed Balmer to replace Ted Kulongoski (whom Balmer worked for at the Oregon Department of Justice) after Kulongoski resigned to campaign for governor. (Kulongoski later won the election to replace Kitzhaber.) Balmer was then elected to a full six-year term in 2002 and re-elected to new terms in 2008 and 2014.[7] In 2005, he joined the board of directors to the Oregon Law Institute.[5] Balmer is currently a member of the U.S. District Court’s Indigent Representation Committee.[2] He won re-election to a new six-year term in 2008.[7] In July 2009, he was named one of five finalists for two open positions on the federal district court in Oregon,[8] but was not chosen as a nominee for the federal court. In January 2012 it was announced that his fellow justices had selected him to become the new Chief Justice of the court on May 1, 2012, to replace Paul De Muniz.[9]

Select publications[edit]

  • Co-author of: Conflicts Between State Law and the Sherman Act, 44 U. Pitt. L. Rev. 1 (1982).[2]
  • Co-author of: Antitrust Review of Proposed Administrative Actions, 61 B.U. L. Rev. 90 (1981).[2]


  1. ^ The Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory. 1 (Oregon, Pennsylvania ed.). Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, Inc. 1998. p. 389. ISBN 978-1-56160-324-4. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Hon. Thomas A. Balmer". Lawyer Directory. FindLaw. Retrieved 2007-01-11. 
  3. ^ "Judge of the Supreme Court". Voter’s Guide. Oregon Secretary of State. Retrieved 2007-01-11. 
  4. ^ McCracken, Chris (September 2004). "Justice Thomas Balmer". Multnomah Lawyer. Multnomah Bar Association. Retrieved 10 May 2014. 
  5. ^ The Honorable Thomas A. Balmer. Oregon Judicial Department. Retrieved on November 26, 2007.
  6. ^ a b c "Oregon Supreme Court Members". Oregon Blue Book. Oregon Secretary of State. Retrieved February 7, 2015. 
  7. ^ Jung, Helen (July 16, 2009). "Five men named finalists for Oregon federal judgeships". The Oregonian. Retrieved 2009-07-16. 
  8. ^ Jung, Helen (January 20, 2012). "State Supreme Court Justice Thomas Balmer to become Oregon's next chief justice". The Oregonian. Retrieved January 21, 2012. 
Legal offices
Preceded by
Paul De Muniz
Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court
Preceded by
Ted Kulongoski
Associate Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court