A New Partnership With Clint

April 1, 2004

April 2004

A New Partnership With Clint

By Chip Mellor

In 1982 when I first met Clint, he was a font of boundless energy imbued with a passion for libertarian principles. His enthusiasm was contagious.

Some things never change.

All of us at IJ have been inspired by the zeal with which Clint tackles issues and adversaries. He epitomizes the spirit of the happy warrior ready to take on long odds against powerful foes.

IJ’s board of directors stands behind Clint Bolick in his new endeavors. From left to right, Jim Lintott, Bob Levy, Abby Thernstrom, Chip Mellor, Clint Bolick, Gerrit Wormhoudt, Stephen Modzelewski, Arthur Dantchik and chairman David Kennedy. Board Member Mark Babunovic is not pictured.

And in the face of such challenges, Clint has produced results that have made the lives of countless people better and shaped the rule of law for future generations. A few examples illustrate the breadth and depth of Clint’s work. Blazing the trail for economic liberty, Clint broke open barriers to African hairbraiding in the District of Columbia and helped unshackle this previously underground occupation from arbitrary licensing laws in many other states. When the states of Texas and Tennessee denied loving adoptive homes to children because of their race, Clint strode before a phalanx of 13 television cameras at our news conference to announce our lawsuit to end this pernicious practice. He then led the litigation team that succeeded in striking down both laws. And then there was Lani Guinier. With the intervening years, it may be hard for some people to remember what a huge national debate over affirmative action Clint sparked by opposing the nomination of Ms. Guinier to the office of Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. Within days, President Clinton disavowed her views and withdrew her nomination.

And of course, the school choice movement would not be where it is today without Clint. Not only was he indominatable in court and inspired in his strategic planning, he was also tireless in crisscrossing the nation to appear in national media, debates and speeches.

The school choice movement will reach new heights under Clint’s leadership of the newly formed School Choice Alliance. Having known Clint for so long and seen him excel at advancing the principles he embraces, I am confident that school choice is now poised for a dramatic surge forward. Millions of schoolchildren will reap the reward.

When I first met Clint, I knew we were kindred sprits in wanting to change the world. Neither of us knew exactly how that would play out over the years. In the eight years before we launched IJ, we worked together frequently to lay the groundwork for the Institute. It was a partnership in all but name. Similarly now, as Clint assumes his new responsibilities, we will join forces to make school choice a nationwide reality. And it will be a great team. The School Choice Alliance will work to organize grassroots support and pass new choice legislation. The Institute for Justice will continue to be the legal arm of the school choice movement, providing counsel on legislation and defending newly enacted programs in court.

We’ve come a long way since 1982, but a constant that endures to this day is the drive and dedication to liberty that we share. The prospect of applying that together in new ways is exciting and we expect to have great victories to celebrate in the future.

Chip Mellor is the Institute’s president and general counsel.

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