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Susan Bolton

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Susan Bolton
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Current Court Information:
United States District Court for the District of Arizona
Title:   Judge
Position:   Seat #6
Appointed by:   Bill Clinton
Active:   10/13/2000 - Present
Preceded by:   Robert Broomfield
Personal History
Born:   1951
Hometown:   Philadelphia, PA
Undergraduate:   University of Iowa, B.A., 1973
Law School:   University of Iowa College of Law, J.D., 1975

Susan Ritchie Bolton is a federal judge for the United States District Court for the District of Arizona. She joined the court in 2000 after being nominated by President Bill Clinton.[1]

Early life and education

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Bolton graduated from the University of Iowa with her bachelor's degree in 1973 and her Juris Doctor degree in 1975.[1]

Professional career

Bolton was a law clerk for Arizona State Appeals Judge Laurance Wren in the Arizona Court of Appeals from 1975 to 1977. Bolton entered private practice in the State of Arizona from 1977 to 1989 before becoming a superior court judge in the Arizona Superior Court for Maricopa County from 1989 to 2000.[1]

Judicial career

District of Arizona

On the recommendation of U.S. Senator Jon Kyl, Bolton was nominated to the United States District Court for the District of Arizona by President Bill Clinton on July 21, 2000 to a seat vacated by Robert Broomfield. Bolton was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on October 3, 2000 on the unanimous consent of the Senate and received commission on October 13, 2000.[2]

Notable cases

Medical marijuana (2012)

     United States District Court for the District of Arizona (State of Arizona v. U.S., 11-cv-1072)

Judge Bolton dismissed a lawsuit on January 4, 2012 filed by Arizona claiming a state law passed by voters in 2010 that legalized medical-marijuana put state workers at risk for federal prosecution and imprisonment due to conflict with federal drug law. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, who opposed the measure, had sought to block the creation of marijuana dispensaries allowed by the law - claiming that state employees charged with regulating the dispensaries were at risk for federal prosecution. Bolton ruled that the state had not established a “genuine threat of imminent prosecution” and dismissed the case.[3] A spokesman for Governor Brewer's office expressed great disappointment over the ruling. Joe Yuhas, spokesman for the Arizona Medical Marijuana Association, said of the ruling, “We would hope that our state leaders will now recognize it is time to stop wasting taxpayer dollars in an effort to thwart the will of the voters and move ahead with full implementation of the initiative."[3]

Arizona immigration law/S.B. 1070 (2010-2011)

     United States District Court for the District of Arizona ((dead link) USA v. State of Arizona, No. CV 10-1413-PHX-SRB)

The United States Department of Justice took the state of Arizona to court in order to stop its bill on immigration from taking effect July 29, 2010. In the ruling, Bolton upheld parts of the law, while striking down some of its more controversial aspects.

In summary, parts of the law that were upheld:

  • the State can restrict local officials from creating "sanctuary city" policies that limit enforcement of the law;
  • Arizona state officials will work with the federal government on illegal immigration; and
  • it is a crime to employ day laborers, often illegal immigrants that wait for work in public areas.[4]

Parts of the law blocked by the decision:

  • The state cannot criminalize individuals for failing to have alien registration papers on them;
  • Arizona cannot authorize "the warrantless arrest of a person" if law officials believe she or he is in the county illegally.[5]

The state of Arizona appealed the ruling in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The Ninth Circuit upheld Bolton's ruling on April 1, 2011.[6]

Read the Ninth Circuit opinion here: USA v. State of Arizona

Arizona counter-suit

On October 21, 2011, Judge Bolton dismissed a lawsuit filed by Governor Jan Brewer against the federal government. The lawsuit was filed as a counter-suit to the one filed by the Justice Department challenging Arizona's immigration law. In her suit, Gov. Brewer claimed that the federal government was not doing enough to protect the state form illegal immigration. Judge Bolton dismissed the suit saying that Gov. Brewer's charges were political questions not appropriate for a court to decide. In addition, Judge Bolton said that some of the state's claims must be thrown out because they were answered in a 1994 court case in Arizona and cannot be litigated again.

Judge Bolton wrote, "While Arizona may disagree with the established enforcement priorities, Arizona’s allegations do not give rise to a claim that the counter-defendants (the federal government) have abdicated their statutory responsibilities."[7]

See also

External links


Federal judicial offices
Preceded by:
Robert Broomfield
District of Arizona
Seat #6
Succeeded by: