New Arizona Supreme Court Justice

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Governor Doug Ducey has made his first appointment to the Arizona Supreme Court. Clint Bolick, former vice president for litigation at the Goldwater Institute, was appointed by Ducey to the state’s high court. Bolick will talk about his new position.

Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Arizona Horizon," I'm Ted Simons. Clint Bolick is a registered Independent with strong Libertarian ties and a long time litigator for the conservative leaning Goldwater Institute. He's also the state's newest Supreme Court Justice appointed by Governor Doug Ducey last week. Joining us is Arizona Supreme Court Justice Clint Bolick.

Ted Simons: Gotta get used to the title, don't you?

Clint Bolick: I really do. I keep smiling every time I hear it.

Ted Simons: Did you hang up on the Governor when he called to tell you?

Clint Bolick: I did. I am such a technophobe. I was on a call and I've never once been able to successfully get off a call and on another call so I hung up on him.

Clint Bolick: I did call back. Fortunately he took my call.

Ted Simons: Good form. Were you surprised the Governor chose you?

Clint Bolick: Well, not really because I know that our judicial philosophies are very similar. But nonetheless, certainly in terms of it being a nontraditional choice, there's no question that it was that.

Ted Simons: On a scale of 1-10, your confidence going in.

Clint Bolick: Well, you know, it's a lengthy process. The Governor is the end of the process. Getting to the governor is a tremendously tall order. Going into it I thought my chances were very, very minimal. But I worked hard. A lot of great people had some nice things to say about me. So here I am today.

Clint Bolick: You mentioned judicial philosophy. What is your judicial philosophy?

Clint Bolick: Well, my judicial philosophy is that every word of the constitution has meaning. And it has the meaning that was intended by the framers. And that's absolutely vital. When judges depart from the text of the constitution what they are doing is amending the constitution and they don't have that power. So my goal will be, especially in terms of interpreting not just the U.S. Constitution but the Arizona Constitution, as well, to give the full meaning to every word in that document.

Ted Simons: With that in mind do you consider the Arizona Constitution a living document?

Clint Bolick: Well, it's a living document in the sense that it is far easier to amend than the U.S. Constitution. In fact, before becoming a justice I authored three provisions that are in the Constitution today. But in terms of its meaning, no. The text is the reflection of the will of the people, and if the people want to change it, they have the tools to do it. Judges should not do that.

Ted Simons: When you say you don't necessarily think that it's a living document, you're not saying that you can't change it or it can't be changed, just that you can't change it.

Clint Bolick: That's exactly right. I think that we have an obligation, when we take an oath to not only the U.S. but the Arizona Constitution that, oath entails being faithful to the text of the Constitution, and what it was intended to accomplish.

Ted Simons: So the phrase judicial activism, judicial action, these sorts of things, many conservatives on the right side look at the courts and say too much of that sort of thing. I think you actually wrote a book regarding judicial activism. Give us your thoughts on that.

Clint Bolick: When I use the term judicial activism, what I mean is the court's performing the roles they were intended to perform, policing the other two branches of government and holding them to the limits of their constitutional authority. That sometimes and perhaps often means striking down laws or executive orders that go beyond the power of the governor, the legislature, unelected government officials, cities and so forth. If you don't do that, if a judge doesn't do that, when another branch of government strays beyond constitutional boundaries, then where do you go for recourse if you're the little guy, if you're the welfare mom, the union member whose rights have been violated? There's nowhere else to go.

Ted Simons: So again, within the framework of a nonliving document there is judicial activism?

Clint Bolick: Oh, absolutely. There are rights that individuals have ranging from free speech torts private property rights to the rights of criminal defendants. And there are limits on government power. And the court is where you go to vindicate your rights. And to hold government to its limitations.

Ted Simons: You realize, I'm sure, that your appointment was not without its critics or those questioning the wisdom of such a choice. One of the arguments is you have an antigovernment agenda. Do you?

Clint Bolick: No, my agenda is to enforce the constitution. I think that is the proper role of a judge. I may see things differently than other judges, but I may see things differently as a judge than I did as a policy advocate in the earlier part of my career.

Ted Simons: How so?

Clint Bolick: Well, you know, when you're advocating for policies you're not necessarily looking at the Constitution first and foremost. Or at the law. You're looking to change those things in many instances. And as a judge you're given a set of rules. You're the referee, not the player anymore.

Ted Simons: So with that in mind, your mentors, let me throw out a couple of names. Justice Clarence Thomas, United States Supreme Court. Thoughts.

Clint Bolick: Yes, I worked for him when he was at the EEOC, he's my favorite justice on the Supreme Court. We've disagreed in the past and I've argued before him and he ruled against me. But the fact is he does something no other justice does. And that is to go in all constitutional cases to the text of the constitution first. Not to the way the courts have decides the cases in the couple of hundred years since then. And I think that it's essential if we are going live in a republic bound by the rule of law, we've got to recourse to the original document.

Ted Simons: Another name, Robert Bork.

Clint Bolick: Robert Bork also considered a conservative. He and I probably disagreed on many more things than we agreed with. During his confirmation hearings he looked at the 9th amenmemt to the Constitution which retains to the people the right not -- not delegated away to the government. He said, you know, I don't know what that means. To me it's a big inkblot, it's irresponsible for a judge to interpret that. My philosophy is exactly the opposite. If it's in the Constitution it means something and the duty of a judge is to figure that out.

Ted Simons: You know, he's not alone. A lot of folks look at the Ninth Amendment and say this does not necessarily make a lot of sense.

Clint Bolick: To me it makes a tremendous amount of sense. It meant that the federal government is a government of limited powers. And that the rights that were not expressly delegated away, and the rights that were enumerated are not the exhaustive list of rights that the people have.

Ted Simons: It's said that you are an idealogue and you will continue to be one during the time you're on the bench.

Clint Bolick: I think the Constitution itself reflects a philosophy. As someone who believes passionately in the constitution I do have a philosophy, as well. I have a philosophy of how judging should be done. Having said that, though, you've got to check your policy preferences at the door when you walk in and when you put on that black robe. And that's exactly what I intend to do.

Ted Simons: Is there a point at which original intent, the words of a nonliving documents intersect with common sense, and you have to kind of realize that we've lost common sense if we don't take that next step. Does that make any sense?

Clint Bolick: Well, I'm not sure exactly.

Ted Simons: If we can go back to Bork and his opinions touching on things like slavery and these sorts of things, whether or not you have child labor, work hours, these sorts of things.

Clint Bolick: What you're trying to do when interpreting the Constitution, those words were written long ago. For example freedom of the press. In those days there was no such thing as the internet. You've got to apply the principles, the words, to the realities of today. That is not to shift the meaning of those words but to do your best to apply them to the circumstances that we have today.

Ted Simons: So interpretation may not resuscitate the document but it does hang around the corpse?

Clint Bolick: I hate to say the is not a living document Constitution because it ought to have resonance for each and every one of us, but a lot of people have hijacked that term to be, it's whatever the judge says it is. In that sense, you know, I think I would descent.

Ted Simons: Your first day in robes today?

Clint Bolick: Yes.

Ted Simons: How did it feel?

Clint Bolick: It was very, very different. This was the first time the cameras in the court room were on my face rather than the back of my head. But it was -- it was really awesome. It was exciting to be up there and to be a part of a phenomenal court.

Ted Simons: Did Justice Clint Bolick, if he were to listen to some of the earlier arguments and earlier reasoning of litigant Clint Bolick, what would he think?

Clint Bolick: Well, I think that justice Bolick would look at litigator Bolick and say here's a guy who worked very hard to bring the right cases to the Court. I've not been in the judicial branch before, having the track record that my colleagues and I did, winning about 70% of our cases, involved being judicious in the selection of cases. So I think that that is a skill that hopefully Justice Bolick will bring from litigator Bolick.

Ted Simons: And for those watching, who are crititcal of the appointment, who are concerned about you, worried about you and what you're going to do on the court, everything from affirmative action, vouchers, school church, you've been very much involved. You've been a loud, strong voice, and a successful voice on many fronts. How do you respond, what do you say to them?

Clint Bolick: There have been a number of advocates who have moved to the U.S. Supreme Court. Thurgood Marshall has been my role model. Little did I know I would be a Supreme Court Justice like he turned out to be, although on the Arizona Supreme Court. Ruth Bader Ginsberg, another example. I think one of the things that's good about having a public interest lawyer in the court that is you are representing the rights of very vulnerable people in society. The courts can be somewhat of an insular environment. One thing I will bring to the court, I will never forget that the people who are appearing before me, their rights depend upon the decisions that we make. I'll never take that for granted.

Ted Simons: With that in mind, maybe a different perspective to the courts?

Clint Bolick: Very possibly so, but that remains to be seen.

Ted Simons: All right. Justice Clint Bolick, congratulations, it's good to have you here.

Clint Bolick: Great to be here, thanks for having me.

Ted Simons: Thank you.

Clint Bolick: Arizona Supreme Court Justice

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