Judge Bruce M. Selya

Inducted: 2006
Born: 1934

The story of Rhode Island’s own Bruce Selya is the story of success itself. The son of Herman and Betty Selya, Bruce was born in Providence on May 27, 1934. He distinguished himself as a star student at Classical High School (magna cum laude, 1951) and at Harvard College (magna cum laude, 1955).

After graduating cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1958, Selya promptly returned to Rhode Island and embarked upon a legendary legal career. He began his professional life as a law clerk to Chief Judge Edward V. Day of our federal district court, and then built a successful law partnership, concentrating in general litigation, health care, real estate development, and corporate counseling. As his professional reputation grew, so did his political involvement.

Serving three terms as a state representative, he received the Republican endorsement for Attorney General in 1964. Considering Selya’s guiding intellect to be “ever sound, ever objective,” Governor John Chafee relied upon Selya as a trustworthy member of his famed “Kitchen Cabinet.” Selya ultimately chaired Governor Chafee’s gubernatorial reelection campaigns and Chafee’s successful 1976 senatorial campaign. He was also elected as a delegate to the Republican national conventions of 1968, 1972, and 1980, and served as the vice chairman of the Republican State Central Committee from 1969 to 1974.

After serving for six years as the probate judge of the Town of Lincoln, President Ronald Reagan appointed Bruce to the Federal District Court for the District of Rhode Island–the first person of the Jewish faith to serve in that capacity! Four years later, realizing his supreme judicial talent, Reagan elevated him to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. After a historically swift confirmation, Judge Selya assumed the highest federal judicial office ever held by a Rhode Islander.

The author of over one thousand published judicial opinions, Judge Selya is one of the most widely quoted jurists in America. His logical, concise, and impeccable legal analysis is seasoned with entertaining bon mots and an eloquent, dignified style.

Involved in a myriad of community causes and public service endeavors, Judge Selya is also an active teacher, lecturer, and speaker, holding faculty appointments at Boston College and Boston University Law Schools. He has served in leadership roles on numerous and diverse institutional boards and is the recipient of honorary degrees from Bryant University, Roger Williams University, and Brandeis University.

Married to the former Cynthia Anzevino, Judge Selya is the father of two (Dawn Sherman and Loriann Young) and the grandfather of three.

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