The Merry Revolutionary

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Joe Padilla, the Mesa deputy city attorney handling the case, seems befuddled -- although his initial answer indicates that without realizing it, he understands completely what IJ is doing.

"I think in the end the Institute has its own agenda, which is to garner publicity for themselves," he says.

Then Padilla suggests that IJ's case is really a ploy to jack up the price of Bailey's land, that the lawyers don't really care about setting precedent.

Bolick laughs.

"If [Padilla] knew the lengths that we go to try to keep people from settling. The whole point of this exercise is to establish that there are some instances where the government cannot take property at all. And it's very difficult where government keeps upping the ante for the property. And that's exactly what's happening."

This past Monday (March 4), the entire legal staff from the IJ Arizona chapter files into Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Robert Myers' courtroom for oral arguments in Mesa v. Bailey. Clint Bolick and Tim Keller sit at counsels' table, with Tom Liddy holding up the rear. The courtroom is filled with onlookers -- Randy Bailey and his supporters, a few reporters.

Bolick has primed the press. IJ's Washington, D.C., office sent out a media alert today touting a new national coalition designed to fight eminent domain cases like this one. Bolick has a "My Turn" column in this morning's Arizona Republic.

The IJ lawyers make quite a powerhouse, although as usual, Bolick looks just a little disheveled. His shoes are shiny, but there's a stain on his suit jacket, and he obviously cut his chin this morning, shaving.

Myers indicates he'd like Bolick to start, but Mesa attorney Joe Padilla looks around anxiously. His co-counsel hasn't arrived. Bolick places his notes on the podium and returns to his seat, telling Myers, "I'll be ready to go!"

"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.

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Amy Silverman is a two-time winner of the Arizona Press Club’s Journalist of the Year award. Her work has appeared on the radio show This American Life and in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Lenny Letter, and Brain, Child. She’s the co-curator of the live reading series Bar Flies, and a commentator for KJZZ, the NPR affiliate in Phoenix. Silverman is the author of the book My Heart Can’t Even Believe It: A Story of Science, Love, and Down Syndrome (Woodbine House 2016). Follow her on Instagram (@amysilverman), Twitter (@amysilvermanaz), and at amy-silverman.com.