AZ Supreme Court Judge and Drew Alum Reflects on U.S. Court System

Clint Bolick C’79 praises Drew profs.

September 2018 – A shoeshine guy who fought for the right to set up shop on a Washington, D.C., street. Parents who battled an Arizona school board for public records. A homeowner who resisted Atlantic City’s efforts to grab her property so it could be developed by Donald Trump.

These are some of the David vs. Goliath cases fought—and won—by Clint Bolick C’79, an Arizona Supreme Court justice who previously worked with the Alliance for School Choice and the Goldwater Institute. Bolick also wrote Immigration Wars with Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida.

Bolick returned to his alma mater to reflect on his past cases and his belief that the American court system is uniquely designed to protect human freedom. As the justice put it, “The judiciary provides a level playing field, one on which David can take on Goliath and win.”

Bolick—whose talk was made possible through the generosity of the Zedlar family and was blogged about by fellow alum Jennifer Tiedemann C’07 of the Goldwater Institute—also reflected on his days as an undergraduate. Here’s a closer look.

Drew mentors

Bolick’s experiences at Drew, where he majored in history and political science, inspired his career path. He told audience member Perry Leavell, professor emeritus of history, that “what you taught me is a part of my life every single day.” In addition, Professor Robert Smith’s class on constitutional law inspired him to go to law school because it “made me realize this is how you bring about fundamental change in America.”

Supreme cases

Arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court—as Bolick did in cases involving school vouchers and interstate wine sales—was “unbelievably exhilarating,” he said, adding, “It’s the closest thing that a nerdy lawyer can ever get to playing in the Super Bowl.”

Thriving in law school

No specific major is necessary for law school, the justice said, noting, “If you’re smart and work hard, you’re going to thrive in law school if you really want to be there.”

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