Guest Commencement Speaker: Justice Thomas A. Balmer
Justice Thomas A. Balmer is an Associate Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court; he served from 2012 to 2018 as the Court’s 43rd Chief Justice. He was first appointed to the Supreme Court by Governor John Kitzhaber in 2001 and was elected in 2002 and re-elected in 2008, 2014, and 2020. Justice Balmer served as Deputy Attorney General under Attorney General Ted Kulongoski (1993-97), advising elected officials and agency heads and handling cases in state and federal court, including arguing before the U.S Supreme Court. Prior to his appointment, he was a partner in a Portland law firm and earlier in his career, he practiced with firms in Boston and Washington, D.C. and was a Trial Attorney with the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.
Justice Balmer received his JD from the University of Chicago Law School in 1977 and his AB from Oberlin College in 1974. He has been as an Adjunct Professor of Law (antitrust) at Lewis & Clark Law School and Willamette University College of Law and an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Lewis & Clark College. He is the author of numerous articles on antitrust, state constitutional law, legal history, and Oliver Wendell Holmes. He has participated in international legal programs, including lecturing on judicial ethics in Uzbekistan (under the auspices of the United Nations) and working with judges and schools on law-related education in Zagreb, Croatia.
Justice Balmer is a member of the American Law Institute and of ALI’s governing Council. During his term as Chief Justice, he served on the Board of Directors of the Conference of Chief Justices and was Chair of the Civil Justice Improvements Committee. That committee oversaw a broad-based, multi-year project that studied and made recommendations to reduce cost and delay in civil litigation — Call to Action: Achieving Civil Justice for All (2016). The report has served as a roadmap for improvements in state courts across the county.
Among his other law-related activities, Justice Balmer has served as Chair and Board Member of Multnomah County Legal Aid Service, Chair and Board Member of Classroom Law Project, and member of the University of Chicago Law School Visiting Committee and Public Interest Advisory Committee. He was named Oregon Legal Citizen of the Year (2016) and received the Oberlin College Distinguished Achievement Alumni Award in 2010.
In the wider community, Justice Balmer has been a volunteer with the Goose Hollow Family Shelter for two decades, a founding Board Member of the Portland Parks Foundation, and a Board Member of Chamber Music Northwest.
He is married to Mary Louise McClintock, Senior Education Strategy and Policy Advisor with the Oregon Community Foundation. They have two adult children — and one grandchild!