Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey bypassed six sitting appeals court judges Wednesday to choose a longtime attorney for the conservative-leaning Goldwater Institute as the next justice of the Arizona Supreme Court.
Ducey's choice of Clint Bolick, Goldwater vice president for litigation, continues the Republican governor's penchant for the institute.
"Clint is a attorney, and he has argued in front of the U.S. Supreme Court," Ducey said. "He is a nationally renowned in the legal field, and he is going to be excellent at this job."
Two Goldwater veterans are on Ducey's staff and he previously appointed Bolick to the state Industrial Commission. Bolick also served on the governor's transition team following his 2014 election.
Bolick, 58, was sworn in Wednesday. Justices serve six-year terms and must then face a retention election.
"You have to make a commitment to being impartial, but I strongly believe in constitutional rights whether it is a criminal defendant, a property owner, or a welfare mom," Bolick said. "I'll call them as I see them."
Bolick is a constitutional scholar who has led Goldwater's litigation operation since 2007. He previously served as president and general counsel of the Alliance for School Choice; vice president and director of litigation for the Institute for Justice; and as a civil rights division lawyer in the Justice Department.
Bolick said he is excited to bring his constitutional law experience to the high court.
"I love doing what I have been doing in my career. I feel I have vindicated freedoms for a lot of people," Bolick said. "But this I think is a logical step because I've had a passion for our state Constitution and this provides the best opportunity to vigorously enforce our state Constitution, as well as the U.S. Constitution."
Bolick replaces Justice Rebecca White Berch, who is retiring from the five-member high court. He is the first independent to serve on the court.
He is a prolific author who co-wrote a book with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on immigration.
Goldwater is representing Republican lawmakers who are suing to overturn the hospital assessment that funds a 2013 Medicaid expansion plan by former Gov. Jan Brewer. That case is widely expected to reach the state high court, but Bolick said he would sit out that case and any other he's been involved in if it comes before the court.
"He's nationally renowned in the legal field and he's going be excellent at this job," Ducey said. "He has pushed for decades in support of the United States Constitution and the Arizona Constitution, and when we are selecting judges we are looking for people that want to be in that role of the judiciary and I have every confidence that Clint will fulfill that role."
The governor interviewed Bolick and the six appeals court justices who were recommended for the post by the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments in mid-December.
Three of the current high court justices were appointed by Brewer and one by former Gov. Janet Napolitano.