The Merry Revolutionary

Clint Bolick is trying to change the world, one lawsuit at at time.

"I have no doubt," the judge replies. Keller pours Bolick a cup of water.

Ultimately, Padilla goes it alone. It's hard to tell which way Myers is leaning. He asks few questions. He's known to be a rather liberal Democrat, but coincidentally, Keller clerked for Myers while in law school at Arizona State University, and says he's very fair.

Bolick characterizes the case as "Robin Hood in reverse" -- the city is taking from Bailey and giving to a wealthy developer. Padilla counters that the area is blighted, the redevelopment vital. The fundamental issue is whether this taking is necessary to preserve the public interest.

Based on this morning's arguments, Myers could decide the case. If he doesn't, Mesa v. Bailey goes to trial next week.

As he leaves the courtroom, Myers promises to rule promptly.


When IJ announced it was creating state chapters, beginning with Arizona, news of Clint Bolick's departure from D.C. legal circles made all the right political columns in the Washington Post and National Review. The National Journal even reported that he and his wife would be vacationing in Bermuda before settling in Phoenix.

Aside from a shiny-blue late-model Saab (license plate: 4LBRTY) in the driveway, Bolick's lifestyle is understated. He and Shawnna, who is expecting their first child (his third) next month, live in the kind of neighborhood where you'd expect to find progressive libertarians: funky, hilly, dotted with mobile homes. The Bolicks' house isn't going anywhere; it's large and decidedly untract-like, with a few Southwestern touches and Dave Barry on the bookshelf next to Ayn Rand and Robert Bork. There's a pool out back, which Clint plans to haunt this spring and summer as he studies for the state bar exam.

Shawnna is delighted to be out of D.C. She and Clint met at an event at the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing think tank where she was working on, among other things, education policy.

She wasn't always conservative. "I was very liberal in high school. Very liberal. I was the person that started the recycling program at our school," Shawnna says. (For the record, she still recycles. "It's so easy.")

But once she entered the workforce, Shawnna started wondering where all her taxes were going -- and that led her over to the right.

Now both are focused on getting settled in Phoenix, and welcoming their son, who will take his place alongside Shawnna's current love, a red brindle greyhound named Saber.

Along with juggling several legal cases on opposite sides of the country and speaking engagements all over the place, Clint has been hard at work on his first novel. A psychological thriller, the idea came to him from a jetlagged nightmare he had years ago in South Africa, where he'd gone for a political conference.

In the story, a man falls in love with a beautiful woman with borderline personality disorder. They have a daughter together. The woman kills herself and the man raises the daughter, who then begins to act like her mother.

So maybe Clint Bolick does have a dark side.

He's finished 33 of 36 chapters. "It is so close to being done that I can taste it."

Given the fights he picked while he was there, it's amazing Washington didn't leave a bitter taste in Bolick's mouth. He insists not, although he admits it's not really his kind of town.

He says he knew it was time to leave when the Monica Lewinsky scandal hit. Bolick considers Ken Starr a friend -- they just finished working together on the Supreme Court vouchers case -- but lambastes those who tried to bring Clinton down based on a cigar and a stained blue dress.

"I just thought that entire ordeal was one of the ugliest episodes in Washington history. I saw the Lewinsky scandal and an effort to use personal dirt to bring down a career as precisely the type of reason why I wanted to leave Washington," he says.

So all these years later, is he disappointed to be remembered for taking down Lani Guinier? Articles are still written challenging Bolick's assertions about Guinier's credibility to fight for civil rights, accusing him of being a front man for conservatives annoyed with the rejection of Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork and the tough time Clarence Thomas got. People still think of him as a racist.

The racist tag stings, but he rejects it without pause. And no, no regrets about Guinier, who is now a law professor at Harvard University. (She declined an interview request.) In fact, Bolick says, he thinks he did Guinier a favor -- she won more fame as a reject than she would have as an appointee.

"I really thought that that battle exemplified a fight over principle. And, indeed, the way that nomination battles really ought to be fought. No one was scouring people's personal lives or searching through garbage cans," he says. "The fact that she was able to walk away from that experience with her reputation intact was something I consider very important."

That is the kind of comment that wins Clint Bolick fans like Nina Totenberg.

"He is not a petty bureaucrat of the right," she says. "He is a big boy."

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