Jon Riches, Goldwater Institute
Jon Riches is the Director of National Litigation for the Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation and General Counsel for the Institute.
He litigates in federal and state trial and appellate courts in the areas of economic liberty, taxpayer rights, public union and pension reform, government transparency, free speech, and school choice, among others.
Jon has developed and authored several pieces of legislation, including the landmark Right to Earn a Living Act, which provides some of the greatest protections in the country to job-seekers and entrepreneurs facing arbitrary licensing regulations. He also developed legislation eliminating deference to administrative agencies in Arizona – a first of its kind regulatory reform that can serve as a model for the rest of the country.
His work at the Institute has been covered by national media, including the Wall Street Journal, CBS This Morning, Bloomberg News, and Politico.
Prior to joining the Goldwater Institute, Jon served on active duty in the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps. While on active duty, Jon represented hundreds of clients, litigated dozens of Court-Martial cases, and advised commanders on a vast array of legal issues.
He previously clerked for Sen. Jon Kyl on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, worked for the Rules Committee in the Arizona State Senate, and clerked in the Office of Counsel to the President at the White House. Jon received his B.A. from Boston College, where he graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. He earned his J.D. from the University of Arizona, James E. Rogers College of Law.
Jon was appointed by the President to serve as a Panel Member of the Federal Service Impasses Panel.
He is an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve and a native of Phoenix, Arizona.
Sheldon Gilbert, Institute for Justice
Sheldon Gilbert is the director of the Institute for Justice’s Center for Judicial Engagement (CJE), which he joined in 2017. As CJE’s director, he educates the public about the proper role of judges in enforcing constitutional limits on the size and scope of government.
Before joining IJ, Sheldon worked as a litigator for the U.S. Chamber Litigation Center, where he represented the Chamber in over 400 cases in federal and state courts addressing a host of important business law issues—from property rights to free speech—including nearly a hundred cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Sheldon has extensive experience in administrative, constitutional, and environmental law, and has been involved in some of the most consequential Supreme Court cases of the last decade in these areas, such as UARG, et al. v. EPA (limits on agency deference for “major questions”) and NLRB v. Noel Canning (constitutionality of purported “recess” appointments).
A native of the Mountain West states of Idaho and Utah, Sheldon nonetheless considers himself a carioca at heart after living two years in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He graduated with honors from The George Washington University Law School in 2008, where he co-founded the national Religious Freedom Moot Court. In 2005, Sheldon received his undergraduate degree in history from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah, where he was an avid policy and parliamentary debater.
He lives in Arlington, Virginia with his wife and four children. He regrets to inform you that it is more likely than not that at least one of his kids will grow up to be a supervillain. In Sheldon’s free time, he’s an adjunct law professor, an avid reader, a genealogical researcher, and a pro bono litigator for military veterans, widows, and others.
The Honorable Jeffrey Sutton, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
Eric Treene, United States Department of Justice
Treene has written and lectured widely on the First Amendment and religious freedom and coordinates the Civil Rights Division’s cases involving religious discrimination in employment, public accommodations, public facilities, education and housing; the protection of houses of worship from discrimination in zoning law; the religious rights of inmates and the prosecution of crimes based on religious bias. He also manages the Justice Department’s efforts to protect Muslims, Sikhs, Arab-Americans and Asian-Americans from discrimination and bias crimes resulting from 9/11 and the war on terror.
Prior to joining the Justice Department, Treene was litigation director at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, an interfaith and nonpartisan public interest law firm in Washington, D.C. He is a graduate of Amherst College and Harvard Law School and a former law clerk to Chief Judge John M. Walker Jr. of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He is the author of a number of articles about the First Amendment.
Jeffrey H. Wood, United States Department of Justice
Jeffrey H. Wood began serving as Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD) on January 20, 2017. He previously served as environmental counsel for U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions and as the Republican staff director for the U.S. Senate Subcommittees on Clean Air & Nuclear Safety and Water & Wildlife. In addition to his government service, Jeff’s career has included time as a partner in the environmental and energy practice groups of a private law firm and as in-house counsel for a transportation company. He earned his undergraduate and law degrees from Florida State University.
The Honorable Orrin G. Hatch, United States Senate
Orrin Grant Hatch was born on March 22, 1934, to Jesse and Helen Hatch. He married Elaine Hansen of Newton, Utah in 1957. Orrin and Elaine Hatch are the proud parents of six children, 23 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.
Now in his seventh term as Utah's senator, Orrin Hatch is the most senior Republican in the Senate. Among his many initiatives are the Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, the Strengthening Our Commitment to Legal Immigration and America’s Security Act, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, and the Utah School Trust Lands Exchange Act.
Senator Hatch is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance. He is also a member (and former Chairman) of the Judiciary Committee; a member (and former Chairman) of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee; and a member of the Joint Committee on Taxation. He also has the honor of serving on the Board of Directors for the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
John Kramer, Institute for Justice
His strategic media relations work—coupled with IJ’s litigation—has protected homes and small businesses nationwide from eminent domain abuse, and secured the rights of entrepreneurs to earn an honest living when the government sought to shut them out. Kramer’s work in the court of public opinion helped ensure that First Amendment protections were extended to the Internet and he directed the successful PR effort to strike down a federal law that made it a felony to compensate bone marrow donors—a victory that has the potential to save thousands of American lives each year.
Applying market-based principles, he has helped the Institute for Justice personalize, humanize and dramatize its stories of individual liberty to the mainstream media. Kramer directed the media relations in six landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases.
Kramer lectures nationwide on the fundamentals of media relations, including at the Institute’s conferences. His media relations work, video script writing and billboard campaigns for the Institute for Justice have earned him some of the top awards given by the Public Relations Society of America, the International Association of Business Communicators, the Outdoor Advertising Association of America and other organizations. Kramer was featured as a “Voice of Authority” on public relations and the law in the nation’s leading public relations textbook, “The Practice of Public Relations,” by Fraser Seitel. He is an award-winning filmmaker who serves on the Advisory Council of the Moving Pictures Institute, and he is a member of The Philadelphia Society, an intellectual society that seeks to deepen and broaden the understanding of a free and ordered society.
Kramer received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from New Mexico State University. In 2014, NMSU selected him as a distinguished alumnus, an honor given to fewer than 450 alumni since the award’s inception in 1956. He received his graduate training in journalism at the University of Nevada-Reno, where he taught introductory journalism. In addition to being an accomplished oil painter, Kramer’s critically acclaimed novel, Blythe, which examines faith, freedom and forgiveness, was released in June 2017.
John Bursch, Bursch Law PLLC and Former Michigan Solicitor General (INVITED)
John Bursch represents Fortune 500 companies, foreign and domestic governments, top public officials, and industry associations in high-profile cases, primarily on appeal. John recently argued and won his 11th U.S. Supreme Court case since 2011 (Lee v. United States)—more than all but a handful of attorneys. And he has argued 28 Michigan Supreme Court cases, including multiple arguments in eight consecutive Terms. John has successfully litigated hundreds of matters around the country, including five with more than $1 billion at stake. Recent victories include a favorable 8th Circuit opinion in an $80 million class-action dispute, and upholding the boundaries of Congressional District 23 on behalf of Texas Congressman Will Hurd.
A recent study found that over the 2012-15 Terms, John's Supreme Court cert. petitions had one of the highest grant rates in the country. Another included John on "a veritable who's who of Supreme Court litigators" list, with the 6th highest win rate among all lawyers with four or more 5-4 Supreme Court decisions since the 2005 Term. Overall, John has compiled a Supreme Court merits record that the National Law Journal observed "even more veteran high court advocates would envy."
John is one of only seven Michigan lawyers inducted into the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, and one of only 62 Michigan attorneys serving as a Member of the American Law Institute. John's work has resulted in repeated listings in Michigan Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers, the latter for Appellate Litigation, Commercial Litigation, and Bet-the-Company Litigation, the former with a cover profile. Bursch Law is a Benchmark Litigation "Recommended firm," one of only 12 in Michigan, and Benchmark names John as a "State litigation star." John is also the principal author of the Michigan Supreme Court's Guide for Counsel.
Andrew Grossman, Baker & Hostetler LLP
Andrew Grossman is a veteran of the Washington policymaking community with recognized experience in constitutional law and legal policy that he brings to his litigation practice. He files briefs that attract attention in high-stakes litigation before the United States Supreme Court and the federal courts of appeals.
Andrew has been a frequent legal commentator on radio and television, having appeared on Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, NPR and its affiliates, CBN, and elsewhere. His legal commentary has also appeared in dozens of magazines and newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times and many others. Andrew has testified before the House and Senate judiciary committees numerous times on issues of constitutional law and legal policy, and he frequently advises members of Congress on complex legal and policy issues.
Bill Messenger, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation
William Messenger is a staff attorney at the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. Messenger has litigated nearly 100 cases including over a dozen at the Appellate-level on behalf of Foundation-aided employees and other individuals. His cases defend workers’ freedom from compulsory unionism and focus on the First Amendment and other constitutional rights. He has argued twice before the U.S. Supreme Court. Messenger successfully argued Harris v. Quinn in 2014, securing a Supreme Court ruling that requiring homecare providers to pay union fees violated the First Amendment.
Messenger has argued many cutting-edge labor law cases including a recent challenge to a Seattle ordinance designed to force ridesharing drivers into compulsory unionism, which is currently before the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. As a recognized expert, he has testified before Congress and has been quoted in numerous media outlets ranging from Fox News to National Public Radio. Messenger graduated cum laude from George Washington University Law School and has been a Foundation staff attorney since 2001.
The Honorable Ryan K. Zinke, United States Secretary of the Interior (INVITED)
Ryan Zinke was sworn in as the 52nd Secretary of the Interior on March 1, 2017. A fifth-generation Montanan and former U.S. Navy SEAL Commander, Ryan Zinke built one of the strongest track records in the 114th Congress on championing sportsmen’s access, conservation, regulatory relief, forest management, responsible energy development, and smart management of federal lands.
Ryan Zinke represented the state of Montana in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2014. Before that he served in the Montana State Senate from 2009 to 2011, but the bulk of his public service was 23 years as a U.S. Navy SEAL officer.
Zinke was commissioned as an officer in the Navy in 1985 and was soon selected to join the elite force where he would build an honorable career until his retirement in 2008. He retired with the rank of Commander after leading SEAL operations across the globe, including as the Deputy and Acting Commander of Joint Special Forces in Iraq and two tours at SEAL Team Six. Zinke was the first Navy SEAL elected to the U.S. House and is the first SEAL to serve as a cabinet secretary.
Zinke holds a Geology degree from the University of Oregon, where he was an All-PAC 10 football player; a Master’s degree in Business Finance from National University; and a Master’s degree in Global Leadership from the University of San Diego. He and his wife Lolita (Lola) have three children and two granddaughters. Zinke is proud to be an adopted member of the Assiniboine Sioux Tribe at the Fort Peck Reservation in Northeast Montana.