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Goldwater Institute lawyer named to Arizona Supreme Court

Clint Bolick has never served as a judge, but the next justice of Arizona's highest court isn't a stranger to appellate courtrooms. As an attorney for the right-wing Goldwater Insitute, he's argued before the state and U.S. supreme courts.

Gov. Doug Ducey announced the appointment Wednesday. Unlike federal Supreme Court justices who serve lifetime terms, Arizona's five high court justices serve for six years but can be reappointed. Bolick will replace Justice Rebecca White Berch, who retired late last year.

"Clint is nationally renowned and respected as a constitutional law scholar and as a champion of liberty," Ducey said.

The Republican governor touted his naming of a registered independent to the bench — the first Arizona justice not affiliated with a major political party.

But Bolick, the chief lawyer for the libertarian-leaning Goldwater Institute since 2007, has solid conservative credentials.

He's a long-time ally of U.S. Justice Clarence Thomas, having worked for him at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in the mid-1980s. Thomas is the godfather of one of Bolick's sons.

Bolick co-authored the 2013 book "Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution" with Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush.

With the Goldwater Institute, he's challenged state and local laws across the country, including bringing a case that struck down Tucson's law giving preference to locally owned businesses when awarding city contracts.

He's also brought cases backing public vouchers for private and parochial schools, and challenged Phoenix's practice of providing paid release time to city employees conducting union business.

Bolick has worked as president of the Alliance for School Choice and as vice president and director of litigation for the Institute for Justice. He also worked as an attorney for the Landmark Legal Foundation, the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, the EEOC and the Mountain States Legal Foundation.

Bolick said he was "deeply honored" to be picked "from a stellar group of nominees."

"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," he said.

The others named as finalists for the vacant seat on the bench were:

  • Michael J. Brown, an Arizona Court of Appeals Judge - Division I
  • Kent E. Cattani, an Arizona Court of Appeals Judge - Division I
  • Daisy J. Flores, an attorney with Flores & Clark LLC
  • Andrew W. Gould, an Arizona Court of Appeals Judge - Division I
  • Maurice Portley, an Arizona Court of Appeals Judge - Division I
  • Timothy J. Thomason, a Maricopa County Superior Court Judge
  • Samuel A. Thumma, an Arizona Court of Appeals Judge - Division I
  • Lawrence F. Winthrop, an Arizona Court of Appeals Judge - Division I

Ducey's choice of an independent is only second time in state history a governor has not chosen a member of the same political party to serve on the Arizona Supreme Court. In 1998, Ruth McGregor, a Democrat, was named a justice by GOP Gov. Jane Hull.

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Gov. Ducey's office

Clint Bolick

Arizona Supreme Court

The other sitting members of the court are:

  • Chief Justice Scott Bales, appointed 2005 by Gov. Janet Napolitano
  • Vice Chief Justice John Pelander, appointed 2009 by Gov. Jan Brewer
  • Justice Robert M. Brutinel, appointed 2010 by Brewer
  • Justice Ann Timmer, appointed 2012 by Brewer