Torkelson: Voters asked to retain Supreme Court Justice Clint Bolick

On his first day at the Arizona Supreme Court, Justice Clint Bolick posted a sign in his office. It had two simple rules he expected staff to follow.

Rule One: Call me Clint; Rule Two: There are no other rules.  Although the first rule was never followed, I can think of no better example of the humility with which Justice Bolick has approached his job as the 44th justice of the Arizona Supreme Court—always taking his work, but never himself, seriously.

I had the honor and privilege of serving as Justice Bolick’s law clerk for almost two years. From the moment he took the bench, he demonstrated a passion to execute his civic duty and fiercely protect both the federal and state constitutions. He did this every day with a smile, a venti Starbucks hot chocolate, and respect for his colleagues and attorneys who argued before him.

Of the attorneys who argued before him, those surveyed gave him a 100 percent score on legal ability, integrity, and administrative performance.  The high marks extended to those that worked behind the scenes, as well.  Court staff joked he needed a Supreme Court greeter vest because he always stopped to say hello to everyone.

In November, voters will be faced with a survey of their own.  On the back of the ballot Arizonans will determine whether to retain Justice Bolick on the high court.  This vote is based upon whether he has the judicial temperament, ability, and skill to remain on the bench.  I know Justice Bolick exhibits these characteristics because I saw it every day without waiver.

Since his time on the court, Justice Bolick has written 32 opinions. Of the 15 times he wrote for the majority, 14 of them were unanimous opinions. This amounts to hundreds, if not thousands, of pages where Justice Bolick outlines exactly how he came to his decision.  Importantly, in not one of those decisions will you find “the party’s identity” a deciding factor.

And there is no reason you would.  Justice Bolick is the only Independent to ever serve on the Arizona Supreme Court.  Indeed, independence is the cornerstone of his jurisprudence. The only common denominator throughout his writings is the plain language of the law.  What it says is what it means.  If you don’t like what it says, look to the Legislature.

Some say true bravery comes in dissent.  Justice Bolick has never shied from writing in opposition.  In fact, he began his first dissent praising our freedom-loving state, while noting the very words on the Supreme Court building, “Where law ends, tyranny begins,” informing readers of a “draconian” Arizona law affecting a homeless man.

Beyond judicial temperament, ability, and skill, Justice Bolick also has an unparalleled dedication to our great state.  I remember two times where Justice Bolick was overcome with excitement. The first was when the Pokémon Go craze was at its height and some of the clerks found a Pokémon on his desk.  The second was when he found out he would once again be teaching, this time Constitutional Law at ASU.  Teaching, in any form, has always been a source of pride for Justice Bolick.  It is why he insists on hiring an intern to work alongside his clerks every semester in chambers. There are countless mentees, just like me, who are forever grateful to learn from him.

Before November, I hope you read his opinions (azjustice44.com) and watch the oral arguments (azcourts.gov). There you will see a justice whose impartiality and independence allows him to look beyond party and political favor to address each case anew.  When you reach the back of your ballot consider what Arizona needs in the black robe.  Then, grab a hot chocolate and join me in voting to retain Justice Bolick.

Ashley Torkelson is currently an attorney serving in the United States Air Force. The views expressed are those of Ms. Torkelson only and not those of the United States Air Force or Department of Defense.

Governor Jan Brewer Seeks Clarity from Arizona Supreme Court

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 21, 2011
CONTACT: Matthew Benson

Governor, Legislature Seek Explanation for High Court Intervention

PHOENIX – Time is short, and the people of Arizona deserve answers.

Governor Jan Brewer and the Arizona State Senate today filed a pair of legal motions formally requesting that the Arizona Supreme Court reconsider last week’s ruling to reinstate Chairwoman Colleen Mathis to the Independent Redistricting Commission. Additionally, the Governor and State Senate have asked the Court to clarify its November 17 order regarding the removal of Chairwoman Mathis, and for the court to stay the order reinstating the IRC Chairwoman until further clarity is provided.

Statement from Governor Brewer 

“It is untenable that the Court has blocked me from executing my Constitutional authority to remove a member of the IRC, but has provided neither explanation for its action nor a timetable for when that guidance will be granted. I maintain that my action was lawful to remove the IRC Chairwoman based on her misconduct and neglect of duty, and ask that the Court reconsider its order of reinstatement. At a minimum, the Chairwoman should be barred from resuming her duties until the Court has provided clarity regarding its cursory order.” 

Statement from Senate President-elect Steve Pierce 

“The Governor and the State Senate have clear constitutional authority to remove an IRC member. When the Court inserts itself into this process, it has an obligation to explain its actions clearly. On Thursday the Court not only disregarded the actions of the Governor, but also more than two-thirds of the State Senate. The Court owes the people of Arizona an explanation on their intervention, and Ms. Mathis must not return to the IRC until we get those answers.” 

Statement from Speaker of the House Andy Tobin 

“I fully support today’s action. Last week’s order from the Court has serious negative repercussions on the constitutional separation of powers. The Arizona Constitution clearly gives the authority to remove a commissioner to the Governor, with a concurring two-thirds vote of the State Senate. The Court has in effect substituted its judgment for that of the Governor and Senate. Therefore, I’ve directed my counsel to seek intervention in the special action for the purpose of joining the Governor and the Senate in seeking reconsideration of the order.”

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Arizona Republican Party Statement on Arizona Supreme Court Ruling Reinstating Chairman Mathis

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 18, 2011
CONTACT: communications@azgop.org

PHOENIX – The Arizona Republican Party released the following statement regarding Thursday’s Arizona Supreme Court Ruling reinstating Independent Chairman, Colleen Mathis to the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. The following quotes are attributable to Chairman Tom Morrissey:

“The Arizona Supreme Court sided against the people of Arizona by reinstating Colleen Mathis to the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission late yesterday.

“It is both disappointing and disturbing that the State High Court would reinstate an individual who has demonstrated a number of actions that have adversely affected the integrity of our electoral redistricting process. From omissions on her application to open meeting violations, political collusion with Democrats and a blatant disregard for Arizona’s Constitution, Mathis has proven herself not to be trusted with Arizona’s redistricting process. Governor Jan Brewer realized this and the Arizona State Senate realized it but the Arizona Supreme Court erred by failing to recognize a seriously compromised process.

“The Arizona Republican Party will continue to stand by Governor Jan Brewer, Senate President Steve Pierce and House Speaker Andy Tobin in the effort to correct this process as quickly as possible. The voters of Arizona deserve an open, transparent and law-abiding process that respects the rights and representation of all Arizona voters. It’s time for the law to prevail and not the leftist legal manipulation of our Constitution.”

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Arizona Supreme Court Reinstates Colleen Mathis as Chairman of Redistricting Commission

Early this evening, the Arizona Supreme Court issued a ruling reinstating the so-called ‘Independent’ Colleen Mathis to the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.

This is a victory for leftists and Strategic Telemetry who were attempting to manipulate the Arizona Constitution to gain political power by leveraging data to the left’s advantage.

Three members of the commission decided to disregard the mandates outlined in the Arizona Constitution and solely utilize the element of competitiveness to draft Arizona electoral boundaries.

The law states the following under Article 4, Part 2, Section 1:

(14) The independent redistricting commission shall establish congressional and legislative districts. The commencement of the mapping process for both the congressional and legislative districts shall be the creation of districts of equal population in a grid-like pattern across the state. Adjustments to the grid shall then be made as necessary to accommodate the goals as set forth below: 

A. Districts shall comply with the United States Constitution and the United States voting rights act; 

B. Congressional districts shall have equal population to the extent practicable, and state legislative districts shall have equal population to the extent practicable; 

C. Districts shall be geographically compact and contiguous to the extent practicable; 

D. District boundaries shall respect communities of interest to the extent practicable; 

E. To the extent practicable, district lines shall use visible geographic features, city, town and county boundaries, and undivided census tracts; 

F. To the extent practicable, competitive districts should be favored where to do so would create no significant detriment to the other goals.

The two Democrats and Independent member, Colleen Mathis, established “F” – the competitive provision – as the main criteria in drafting the maps.

This was a blatant redistribution of votes.

With Mathis now reinstated, the commission can move forward working to further divide and leverage minority power against the rest of the State of Arizona.

We would assume that Governor Brewer is furious over the court’s action (A statement was just released.)

This may also set the stage for a constitutional crisis.

This also should give the legislature further motive to move quickly to enter a special session with the exclusive objective of referring a repeal of the law that gave us the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.

The Legislature has until November 30th to pass a referendum in order to place it on the ballot on the same day of the Presidential Preference Election on February 28th.

If you support repealing the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission and restoring this authority to 90 elected accountable people instead of 5 un-elected un-accountable people, contact the Arizona Legislature and let them know.

Time is running out for the legislature to act.

Lets restore this important authority to those who will not manipulate the law using slick Democrat consulting firms.