Goldwater Institute

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Goldwater Institute
Established 1988
Chairman Eric Crown[1]
President Darcy A. Olsen
Staff 31[2]
Budget Revenue: $5,049,260
Expenses: $5,338,305
(FYE December 2014)[3]
Location Phoenix, Arizona
Coordinates 33°28′05″N 112°03′54″W / 33.468°N 112.065°W / 33.468; -112.065Coordinates: 33°28′05″N 112°03′54″W / 33.468°N 112.065°W / 33.468; -112.065
Address 500 East Coronado Road
Phoenix, Arizona 85004

The Goldwater Institute is a Phoenix, Arizona-based conservative and libertarian public policy think tank.[4] The Institute's stated mission is "to defend and strengthen the freedom guaranteed to all Americans in the constitutions of the United States and all fifty states."[5] The organization was established in 1988 with the support of the late U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater. The organization was primarily a public policy research organization until 2007, when it added a litigation arm, becoming the first state-based policy organization to do so.[4][6] Goldwater's litigation arm, the Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation, engages in lawsuits against government entities across the United States.[7]


U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater, the Institute's namesake

The Goldwater Institute was founded in 1988 by conservative activists with the blessing of Barry Goldwater. It is registered with the IRS as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.[3] Darcy A. Olsen is the Institute's president. She joined Goldwater in 2001 as executive director.[8] The organization's board of directors includes Barry Goldwater, Jr.[4]

The Goldwater Institute is a proponent of increased educational choice through charter schools and school vouchers.[9][10] The organization has helped state lawmakers draft "right to try" laws, which allow terminally ill individuals to try experimental medications that have not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.[11]

Litigation center[edit]

The Goldwater Institute created the Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation in June 2007. The center, previously directed by lawyer Clint Bolick, engages in lawsuits against federal, state, and local governmental bodies to advocate adherence to constitutional law and to protect individual rights, such as property rights and entrepreneurial freedom, from potential government intrusion.[4]

In Turken v. Gordon the Goldwater Institute sued the city of Phoenix over a $100 million corporate subsidy to the CityNorth development, which the Goldwater Institute argued was illegal under the Arizona Constitution.[12][13]

In another case, Preston v. Hallman, the Goldwater Institute successfully sued the city of Tempe, Arizona on behalf of a tattoo parlor owner whose permit to operate was denied by the city council though it complied with zoning laws.[14][15] In 2010, the Goldwater Institute successfully defended the right of voters to wear Tea Party T-shirts to the polls.[4]

In Tombstone v. United States, the Goldwater Institute sued on behalf of the City of Tombstone, Arizona, which had been denied permission to use machinery to repair its water lines in an environmentally sensitive area.[16][17]

In February 2015, the Goldwater Institute filed suit in Massachusetts, challenging the state’s century-old ban on corporate contributions to political candidates.[7]


Journalist George Will described the Goldwater Institute as "America's most potent advocate of limited government."[18] The Institute has been named "Best Capitol Watchdog Group" a number of times by the Arizona Capitol Times.[19]

In 2013, the progressive Center for Media and Democracy released a report criticizing the institute for its funding, activities, and involvement in the American Legislative Exchange Council. In response, Goldwater Institute president Darcy Olsen said: "There seems to be a critique that we’re funded by conservatives. Of course we’re funded by conservatives — we’re a conservative think tank.”[20]


  1. ^ "Contact Us, Board of Directors". Goldwater Institute. 10 August 2015. 
  2. ^ "Staff". Goldwater Institute. Retrieved 10 August 2015. 
  3. ^ a b "Charity Rating". Charity Navigator.  Also see "Quickview data" (PDF). GuideStar. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Lacey, Marc (December 25, 2011). "A Watchdog for Conservative Ideals". New York Times. Retrieved 6 March 2015. 
  5. ^ "Mission". Goldwater Institute. 
  6. ^ "The Art of Public Policy Philanthropy: Donors Go to Court | Philanthropic Freedom | The Philanthropy Roundtable". Retrieved 2016-03-15. 
  7. ^ a b Scharfenberg, David (February 25, 2015). "State campaign finance law faces legal challenge". Boston Globe. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  8. ^ "The Goldwater Institute: 20 years later". Arizona Republic. September 28, 2008. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  9. ^ Beard Rau, Alia; Schmidt, Karen (March 14, 2014). "Divisive school plan advances in Legislature". Arizona Republic. Retrieved 6 March 2015. 
  10. ^ Mitchell, Tia (July 31, 2014). "Parents, Goldwater Institute seek to intervene in voucher lawsuit". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 6 March 2015. 
  11. ^ Walters, Edgar (February 25, 2015). "Lawmakers Push "Right to Try" Experimental Drugs". Texas Tribune. Retrieved 6 March 2015. 
  12. ^ Olsen, Darcy (June 6, 2009). "Arizona's Landmark 'Bailout' Battle". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  13. ^ Fenske, Sarah (January 25, 2010). "CityNorth Subsidy Sent Back to Court of Appeals". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  14. ^ Montini, Ed (May 19, 2009). "Tattoo parlor gets under skin of a stereotype". Arizona Republic. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  15. ^ Fischer, Howard (September 7, 2012). "Court ruling: 1st Amendment protects Mesa tattoo shop". East Valley Tribune. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  16. ^ Poindexter, Joel (April 27, 2012). "Tombstone, Water, and the Bureaucrat Standing In Between". Tenth Amendment Center. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  17. ^ Nicholas, Samantha (December 28, 2012). "Federal Appeals Court Rejects Tombstone's Appeal". Tombstone News. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  18. ^ Will, George (November 19, 2009). "George F. Will on health reform's constitutional problems". Washington Post. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  19. ^ "2010 Best of the Capitol awards recipients". Arizona Capitol Times. 2010. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  20. ^ "Report criticizes Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute". The Arizona Republic. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 

External links[edit]