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Justice Bolick starts ‘boring website’ amid political clamor

A screenshot of azjustice44.com, a website that aggregates Arizona Supreme Court Justice Clint Bolick's written opinions and articles.

A screenshot of azjustice44.com, a website that aggregates Arizona Supreme Court Justice Clint Bolick’s written opinions and articles.

Arizona Supreme Court Justice Clint Bolick has a website featuring his written opinions and articles, a rare step for a judge but one that becomes more explicable in an election year.

“This may be the world’s most-boring website,” the homepage of azjustice44.com proclaims. Bolick is the 44th justice of the state Supreme Court and is up for retention on the November ballot.

It’s a simple site set on a white backdrop that opens on a photo of Bolick looking cheery beside a lectern with a plaque from The Fund for American Studies, a group that promotes libertarian ideas.

It’s meant for “law-nerds” like Bolick, the explainer says beneath the photo, and “anyone keeping an eye on Arizona jurisprudence or wanting to learn more about it.”

It is unclear how long the site has been public. The domain has been registered since May 2017, but several attorneys who practice in front of the Supreme Court knew nothing about it, and on September 6 Judge Jennifer Perkins of the Arizona Court of Appeals tweeted about it.

Nowhere on the site does Bolick explicitly refer to any politically driven reason for it, but he has recently been the target of political arrows.

A majority of the state Supreme Court justices ruled August 29 that the Invest in Education Act initiative could not appear on the 2018 ballot.

It is not publicly known which side any of the justices took in the split decision to keep the proposal off the ballot. But that didn’t stop Arizona Educators United from hinting at a challenge to Bolick and Justice John Pelander, who are the only two Supreme Court justices up for retention this year.

A graphic, which can no longer be found on the Arizona Educators United website, showed all seven justices, with red X’s at the corners of Bolick and Pelander’s photos.

According to a report by Phoenix New Times, which captured the image before it vanished, this message accompanied the graphic: “Remember these names and vote accordingly…”

Attorney Kory Langhofer said Bolick’s website is certainly unusual, but so is the idea of litigants attacking justices personally.

Assuming the site came in response to the uproar against Bolick and the court, Langhofer said it’s a perfectly fair and proper retort.

“You can understand the impulse of someone who writes opinions that are measured and reasonable and based on the law wanting to push back on this leftist narrative that this guy’s in the bag for the right wing,” he said. “That false narrative can be rebutted by things he’s actually said in public.”

And the ways in which Bolick is allowed to refute inaccurate information about him is limited, Langhofer added. The governor can put up a fair fight by calling up the press and giving his own account of things. But judges are not permitted to do so.

All Bolick has done here is aggregate his opinions, which he is required to write of course, and articles, which he is allowed to publish.

“People are spreading false information about him,” Langhofer said. “He wants to show people who he truly is.”

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