Joseph R. Palmore

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

Joseph R. Palmore is co-chair of the firm's Appellate and Supreme Court Practice Group and Managing Partner for the Washington, D.C. office. Before joining Morrison & Foerster, Joe was an Assistant to the Solicitor General at the United States Department of Justice and the Deputy General Counsel of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Joe has argued 12 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and served as primary author of more than 150 briefs in that Court.

Joe has handled appeals in a variety of areas important to businesses, including class action certification, false advertising, environmental regulation, intellectual property, ERISA, health care, communications, and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. Joe’s win in the Federal Circuit for Immersion Corporation was named among the most significant patent decisions in Law360’s Top Patent Cases of 2016: Midyear Report. As one practitioner stated, that victory “saved from the fire tens of thousands of patents that would have gone up in smoke.” Joe presented oral argument in In re GNC Corporation, in which the Fourth Circuit affirmed dismissal of a false advertising claim against the supplement retailer. Law360 described that decision as a “first-of its kind ruling by a federal appellate court that attorneys say will fell many such suits in the early pleading stages.” 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.” 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)

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 Department of Justice, Joe spent three years as Deputy General Counsel at the FCC, 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.

Before his government service, Joe worked at another international firm, where his practice involved appellate, communications, and health care matters. He clerked for the Hon. Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the Supreme Court of the United States, the Hon. John Gleeson of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, and the Hon. 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 former office of the Coke Appellate Inn at Court. In 2016, he served as one of the 15 “nationally recognized lawyers with substantial trial and appellate practices” who advised the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary on the professional qualifications of the Honorable Merrick Garland to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. In 2019, he was recommended by Chambers USA and Legal 500 US 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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