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Meet Arizona's Newest Supreme Court Justice: Clint Bolick Featured

By Lynne LaMaster January 06, 2016 742

Clint Bolick goes from The Goldwater Institute to the Arizona Supreme Court.

It could be considered an unusual choice - although some say it was a brilliant one. Clint Bolick, who has never been a judge, or a prosecutor, has just been appointed to the Arizona Supreme Court. As a first appointment to the Supreme Court, Ducey certainly stepped outside the traditional choice.

One thing about Justice Bolick, is that he’s lived a rather public life as an attorney and litigator. He may be the most transparent of appointees to the Arizona Supreme Court. Although he's known as one of the best legal minds out there, he appears to be very friendly and approachable. The kind of lawyer you might want representing your rights. The kind of person you never thought a governor would be confident enough to appoint. 

Get to Know the Newest Supreme Court Justice Clint Bolick

1. As mentioned, Bolick has never been a judge.

2. Also as mentioned, Bolick has never been a prosecutor, although he has done a stint in the United States Justice Department.

3. Bolick is an Independent, not a Republican. That’s the first time an Independent has been appointed to the AZ Supreme Court Bench, and only the second time a governor has appointed someone outside his or her political party.*

4. He was sworn in almost immediately. As in, today.

5. His specialty is Arizona and United States Constitutional Law.

6. He worked together with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

7. As a matter of fact, Justice Thomas is the godfather for Bolick’s son.

8. He’s an author. His first book is called, “Changing Course.”

9. Bolick wrote a book on another topic called, “Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution.” His co-author? Jeb Bush, current Presidential candidate. About Bolick’s appointment, Bush tweeted, "Gov Ducey made a fantastic appt. Clint’s respect for the Constitution & commitment to federalism is second to none.

10. On the subject of Bolick’s career as an author, he even has his own page on Amazon, which features his non-fiction works regarding legal matters. His novel, Nicki’s Girl, is also available.

11. He likes to litigate. Apparently, Bolick thrives on it, he’s been VP and Director of Litigation for the Institute for Justice and VP for Litigation at the Goldwater Institute. The New York Times is quoted as saying that Bolick is, "“known for his aggressive litigation to defend individual liberties.”

“I am the luckiest lawyer in the world. I get to choose my cases, I get to choose my clients and the people I get to sue are bureaucrats,” Bolick said.

12. He’s a supporter of School Choice, Charter Schools, the Right to Try legislation and Fish Pedicures (sadly, he lost that battle.)

13. He’s not so big on unions and some of their practices. See: Save our Secret Ballot and Union Release Time

14. He is standing up for Native American Children and against the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act.

15. His wife, Shawnna Bolick, is a Representative in the Arizona Legislature for District 28. Shawnna is also an author.

16. Clint Bolick has been honored with the Bradley Prize, named one of three Lawyers of the Year by American Lawyer in 2003 and included in Legal Times magazine (2009) as one of “90 greatest Washington lawyers of the past 30 years.”

17. He received his law degree from University of California Davis in 1982.

18. He is a Hoover Institution Research Fellow in the area of immigration reform.

19. In 1980, Clint Bolick ran as a Libertarian for a seat in the California State Assembly. He lost to an incumbent Democrat.

20. Bolick and his wife are fans of Prescott.

As the featured speaker for the Citizen’s Tax Committee of Prescott in August of 2014, Bolick explained, “Prescott holds a very, very special place in Shawnna’s and my hearts,” Bolick said in his introductory comments. “We actually fell in love with Prescott many years ago, and I can remember the exact point when we both fell in love with Prescott. It was shortly after the election of Barack Obama, and Shawnna and I were possibly clinically depressed… And for whatever reason, we found ourselves in Prescott for the Rodeo. And we were assembled there with thousands of people waiting to see the Rodeo, and first there, we had a prayer, and then we sang the Star Spangled Banner. And I looked around at the people surrounding us and I said to Shawnna, ‘What percentage of the people surrounding us do you think voted for Barack Obama?’ And she said, ’16%?’ and my guess was 18%, and we just felt at home. We felt surrounded by real Americans, and every time we come back here, we really feel like we’re coming home. Coming home to friends and family. So, thank you for doing what you do… Thank you for keeping the Spirit of Liberty alive."

You can watch Bolick's entire presentation here:

*The only other Governor to step outside party lines was Republican Governor Jane Hull, who chose Democrat Ruth McGregor.

Governor Doug Ducey Announces First Arizona Supreme Court Appointment

PHOENIX – Governor Doug Ducey today announced the appointment of Phoenix attorney Clint Bolick, an independent, to the Supreme Court of Arizona.
This is Governor Ducey's first appointment to the Supreme Court of Arizona.
Mr. Bolick specializes in United States and Arizona constitutional law, and also handles cases involving state and federal regulatory law, business and property regulation, health care, education, public pensions, family law and election law.
Mr. Bolick has served as vice president for litigation at the Goldwater Institute since 2007. Previously, he worked as president and general counsel of the Alliance for School Choice and as vice president and director of litigation for the Institute for Justice. Mr. Bolick also worked as an attorney for the Landmark Legal Foundation, the United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Mountain States Legal Foundation.
Mr. Bolick’s distinguished legal career has been devoted to advancing economic liberty, expanding educational choice, promoting freedom of speech and expression, and the fulfillment of the American Dream for individuals and small businesses.
“Clint is nationally renowned and respected as a constitutional law scholar and as a champion of liberty,” said Governor Ducey. “He brings extensive experience and expertise, an unwavering regard for the rule of law and a firm commitment to the state and citizens of Arizona. I’m confident Clint will serve impartially and honorably in this important role.”
“I am deeply honored by Governor Ducey's appointment from a stellar group of nominees to the Arizona Supreme Court,” said Clint Bolick. “I cherish Arizona, our Constitution, and the precious freedoms it protects. I look forward to serving all of our citizens with integrity, fairness, compassion, and a devotion to justice.”
During the selection process, Governor Ducey and the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments received numerous letters, emails, and phone calls from Arizonans and national figures supporting Mr. Bolick’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
According to Melissa Penniman, director of curriculum and instruction in the Alhambra School District, “The school district in which I work is a high poverty, urban school district. A year and a half ago, I reached out to Clint multiple times to ask assistance and advice regarding issues affecting our school district. He listened to all sides of the issue and quickly understood the heart of the issue. Clint was happy to oblige and provided an impartial perspective and reasonable course of action to take. He demonstrated concern and compassion for our students, and advocacy for public education as a whole.”
George F. Will, national news columnist and public affairs commentator, wrote: “As the prime mover in landmark litigation, [Mr. Bolick] has repeatedly won from courts victories that have firmly established the constitutionality of programs that empower parents to make the choices directing the education of their children in public or private schools.”
G. Marcus Cole, Professor of Law at Stanford University, wrote: “I think that many Americans, including myself, view Arizona as a bastion of freedom in our country, and an example of how a state can promote the general welfare by respecting and protecting the freedom of its citizens. But liberty is a fragile condition, under assault at all times from those with an interest in restricting it. If my own liberty were under assault, the very first person I would seek to defend it would be Clint Bolick. The people of Arizona could not have a better defender of their precious rights and liberties than Clint.”
Mr. Bolick graduated from the University of California at Davis School of Law and from Drew University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History.
Clint Bolick’s appointment to the Arizona Supreme Court was made to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of the Honorable Rebecca White Berch.


Responses on Twitter

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey Appoints Goldwater Institute’s Clint Bolick to Serve as Arizona Supreme Court Justice

Phoenix, AZ. - Governor Doug Ducey put his stamp on the on state’s highest court today with his appointment of Goldwater Institute’s Clint Bolick to the Arizona Supreme Court. Bolick will replace retiring Justice Rebecca Berch. He was among seven candidates recommended to the Governor by the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments.
“I’m proud of the many victories for freedom we have achieved at the Goldwater Institute over the past eight years,” said Bolick. “I am deeply honored by Gov. Ducey’s appointment from a highly distinguished group of nominees, and am excited to bring my experience in constitutional law to the Arizona Supreme Court.”

Bolick has served as vice president for litigation at the Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation since 2007. The Goldwater Institute is widely recognized for championing liberty and constitutional rights in courts, legislatures, and communities nationwide.
According to a recent New York Times profile, Bolick is “known for his aggressive litigation in defense of individual liberties.” He has argued and won cases in the United States Supreme Court, the Arizona Supreme Court, and state and federal courts from coast to coast. Under his leadership Goldwater Institute attorneys set landmark precedents defending school choice, freedom of enterprise, and private property rights and won three of every four lawsuits that reached a final decision.
Bolick helped author the Health Care Freedom Act and the Save Our Secret Ballot amendments, which were added to the Arizona Constitution in 2010 and adopted in several additional states. Bolick has also assisted attorneys in numerous states to establish litigation centers based on the Goldwater Institute model.
Before joining the Goldwater Institute, Bolick was co-founder of the Institute for Justice and later served as president of the Alliance for School Choice.
In 2003, American Lawyer recognized Bolick as one of three lawyers of the year for his successful defense of school choice programs, culminating in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris in the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2009, Legal Times named Bolick one of the “90 Greatest D.C. Lawyers in the Past 30 Years.” Bolick received one of the freedom movement’s most prestigious awards, the Bradley Prize, in 2006 for advancing the values of democracy and free enterprise.
Bolick has authored several books, most recently with Governor Jeb Bush, Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution. Other titles include Death Grip: Loosening the Law’s Stranglehold Over Economic Liberty (2011) and David’s Hammer: The Case for an Activist Judiciary (2007).) In addition to his work at the Goldwater Institute, Bolick serves as a research fellow with the Hoover Institute, a Stanford University based public policy think tank promoting the principles of individual, economic, and political freedom.
“As a litigator, Clint Bolick has vindicated the fundamental constitutional rights of all Americans, including winning landmark cases that protected the right to earn an honest living and expanded educational options for children nationwide,” said Darcy Olsen, President of the Goldwater Institute. “Americans can count on Clint to be on the side of all Americans in defending our constitutional freedoms.”
Five justices serve on the Arizona Supreme Court for a term of six years. The Supreme Court’s primary judicial duties under Article VI, §5 of the Arizona Constitution are to review appeals and to provide rules of procedure for all the courts in Arizona. It is the highest court, and is often called the court of last resort in the state of Arizona.
About the Goldwater Institute
The Goldwater Institute drives results by working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and strengthen the freedom guaranteed to all Americans in the constitutions of the United States and all 50 states. With the blessing of its namesake, the Goldwater Institute opened in 1988. Its early years focused on defending liberty in Barry Goldwater’s home state of Arizona. Today, the Goldwater Institute is a national leader for constitutionally limited government respected by the left and right for its adherence to principle and real world impact. No less a liberal icon than the New York Times calls the Goldwater Institute a “watchdog for conservative ideals” that plays an “outsize role” in American political life. To learn more about the Goldwater Institute visit www.goldwaterinstitute.org.

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