Director, Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation, the Goldwater InstituteClint Bolick is the director of the Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation at the Goldwater Institute. Recognizing the importance of the states in protecting freedom, the Scharf-Norton Center is the first associated with a policy organization to exclusively litigate state issues.
Before joining the Goldwater Institute in 2007, Bolick was a co-founder and vice president of the Institute for Justice, and president of the Alliance for School Choice.
Bolick is best known for his role in defending state-based school choice programs. In his book Voucher Wars, Bolick described his 12-year struggle to provide educational opportunity to disadvantaged children through tuition vouchers. This culminated in 2002 with the U.S. Supreme Court’s Zelman v. Simmons-Harris decision.
In Zelman, Bolick argued before the Supreme Court on behalf of Ohio’s voucher plan, which provided tuition vouchers to parents of students in the Cleveland City School District to attend public or private schools. The court upheld the constitutionality of this voucher plan, providing a major boost to the national “school choice” movement.
Bolick is continuing his advocacy for school choice at the Goldwater Institute. In 2007, the Institute successfully challenged the state’s authority to dictate the curricula of charter schools. During the fight, state education officials argued that the state would lose federal funds if the charter schools’ social studies curricula were not aligned with state standards.
In response to a letter from Bolick, a U.S. Department of Education attorney wrote that since federal law doesn’t include any such mandates, “any non-alignment of such curriculum to state standards would not be grounds for withholding Federal funds.”
Bolick said this considerably weakened the state’s position since the federal funding issue was its “first line of defense.” A few months later, the state settled the lawsuit and allowed the charter schools to continue setting their own curricula.