Joseph R. Palmore

Partner | Washington, D.C. | (202) 887-6940
(202) 887-6940

Joe Palmore co-chairs Morrison & Foerster’s Appellate and Supreme Court practice and is the Managing Partner of its Washington, D.C. office. With 12 oral arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court and more than 45 in other appellate courts nationwide, Joe leads complex appeals and critical motions on a wide range of important business issues. Clients call him “an outstanding oral advocate,” praising his ability to remain “completely calm at all times and in complete command of the facts” (Chambers USA). One client recounted that “the Court mirrored the language he thoughtfully chose in its ultimate order” (Legal 500).

During a recent U.S. Supreme Court term, Joe successfully argued two cases: Law360 called one of them (Thole v. U.S. Bank) a “landmark ruling” that “made huge waves in the ERISA litigation arena” and named the other (Atlantic Richfield Co. v. Christian) one of the “biggest environmental law decisions” of the year. Joe’s oral argument before the Supreme Court on the preemptive scope of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) in CTS Corp. v. Waldburger was described in the National Law Journal as “brilliant” and a “template for anyone arguing a statutory case before these nine justices in the future.”

Joe’s practice extends to federal and state appellate courts across the country, where he has handled appeals on issues as varied as antitrust, class actions, communications, false advertising, intellectual property, and securities. Joe has secured important victories in the Second Circuit (where he clerked), including for an online marketplace in a securities class action and for a technology company in a Telephone Consumer Protection Act suit. He also has a successful track record in the Ninth Circuit, including winning for a beverage company defending against an antitrust suit and for an equipment manufacturer embroiled in a dispute over U.S. discovery for foreign litigation. Joe’s victory in the Federal Circuit for Immersion Corporation in a patent appeal was described by another practitioner as having “saved from the fire tens of thousands of patents that would have gone up in smoke.”

Before joining Morrison & Foerster, Joe served as an Assistant to the Solicitor General at the U.S. Department of Justice. During his nearly five years in the Solicitor General’s Office, Joe had principal responsibility for briefing the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act’s minimum coverage provision, which was upheld in the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in NFIB v. Sebelius. For his work on that case, Joe received the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service—the Department of Justice’s highest honor for employee performance. He also received the Environmental Protection Agency General Counsel’s medal for his successful defense of the EPA’s interstate air pollution rules in EPA v. EME Homer City Generation.

Before working for the Justice Department, Joe spent three years as Deputy General Counsel at the Federal Communications Commission, where he oversaw all litigation involving constitutional, statutory, and administrative-law challenges to the agency’s actions and argued 10 cases in the federal courts of appeals. His FCC experience includes virtually all aspects of communications regulation, including broadcast, cable, wireless, wireline, and Internet. In addition, he provided counsel to FCC officials on matters likely to result in litigation.

Joe clerked for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge John Gleeson of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, and Judge Dennis Jacobs of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York. Joe earned his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law, his M.A. in legal history from the University of Virginia, and his A.B. magna cum laude from Harvard University.

Joe is a Fellow in the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, selected for his distinction as an appellate lawyer. He also serves as a member of the Technology Litigation Advisory Committee of the U.S. Chamber Litigation Center and is a master in, and former officer of, the Coke Appellate Inn at Court. In 2021, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network gave Joe its Judicial Advocacy Initiative Award for his pro bono work for the organization in healthcare cases.

He is recommended annually by Chambers USALegal 500, and Best Lawyers for appellate law.

Supreme Court Arguments

  • Thole v. U. S. Bank, N. A. (28:15)
    Whether Article III of the Constitution requires a plaintiff to demonstrate individual financial loss or the imminent risk of financial loss to assert a fiduciary duty claim against a pension plan.
  • Atlantic Richfield Co. v. Christian (28:10)
    Whether state-law pollution clean-up remedies are barred by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).
  • CTS Corp. v. Waldburger (16:22)
    Whether the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) preempts state-law statutes of repose.
  • Abramski v. United States (26:01)
    Involving the materiality of a false statement made when purchasing a firearm.
  • Fernandez v. California (42:47)
    Whether the Fourth Amendment prohibits a warrantless search of a residence when the defendant has previously objected to a search but is no longer present and the co-tenant consents.
  • Florida v. Harris (16:55)
    Whether a drug-detection dog’s alert to the exterior of a vehicle provides an officer with probable cause to conduct a warrantless search of the interior of the vehicle.
  • Horne v. Department of Agriculture (26:50)
    Involving jurisdictional requirements for Takings Clause claims.
  • US Airways v. McCutchen (21:18)
    Involving the limits on equitable relief available in suits against ERISA plans by beneficiaries and participants.
  • Pacific Operators Offshore v. Valladolid (25:36)
    Involving the territorial limits on compensation available under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.
  • Roberts v. Sea-Land Services (27:53)
    Involving benefit calculations under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.
  • Borough of Duryea v. Guarnieri (19:16)
    Whether state and local government employees may sue their employers for retaliation under the First Amendment’s Petition Clause when they petition the government on matters of private concern.
  • Chase Bank USA v. McCoy (17:23)
    Whether Regulation Z of the Truth in Lending Act requires creditors to give cardholders advance notice any time they raise the interest rate for default.

Representative Appellate Arguments

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