Nick Dranias

Nick Dranias (Born in Chicago, IL in 1971), is an attorney and the director of the Joseph and Dorothy Moller Center for Constitutional Government[1] at the Phoenix, AZ think tank the Goldwater Institute.


He received his B.A. in Economics and Philosophy cum laude from Boston University and his J.D. from Loyola University in Chicago, where he served as a senior member of the law review, participated in Loyola's national labor law moot court team and won American Jurisprudence and CALI awards for the highest grades in his legal writing, land use and remedies courses.


Dranias began his legal career with Dranias, Harrington and Wilson, a Chicago law firm focusing on real estate, commercial and personal injury litigation and state appellate law. His major cases included Concrete Products vs. Centex Homes, a case with major implications for bankruptcy and mechanics lien law. He also prosecuted and defended numerous jury and bench trials, arbitrations, mediations and appeals. In 2001, he became co-editor of the Chicago Bar Association’s YLS journal, a post he held until 2005. While editor, Dranias won the Oliver Wendell Holmes award.

In 2005, Dranias accepted a post as staff attorney at the Minnesota chapter of the Institute for Justice, where he litigated cases protecting economic liberty and free speech. Every case Dranias handled to conclusion resulted in victory.

In March 2008, Dranias joined the Phoenix, AZ think tank the Goldwater Institute. Dranias was been the lead attorney in a successful lawsuit against the state of Arizona over a law called the Clean Elections Act, which provides publicly financed candidates funds that automatically match what their rivals receive.[2] Dranias argued that the statute unconstitutionally limited freedom of speech by punishing private donors and candidates for spending money to engage in political expression. In January 2010, Dranias succeeded in convincing a federal district court to permanently enjoin the matching funds component of the Clean Elections Act. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the permanent injunction in late May 2010; but two weeks later, on June 8, 2010, Dranias succeeded in persuading the Supreme Court to suspend the Ninth Circuit's decision. The Supreme Court's extraordinary intervention in the case has restored the district court's permanent injunction until the Court determines whether to accept the Institute's appeal from the Ninth Circuit's decision. On August 17, 2010, the Institute filed its formal appeal from the Ninth Circuit's decision with the Supreme Court. On November 29, 2010, the Supreme Court agreed to consider the formal appeal and heard oral arguments on March 28, 2011. On June 27, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling and agreed with Dranias' argument, declaring matching funds unconstitutional.

In addition to his work litigating the constitutionality of the Clean Elections Act, Dranias has prepared and filed amici briefs in support of efforts to overturn local and federal gun laws, as well as the preclearance requirements of the federal Voter Protection Act. He is also a member of the Goldwater Institute litigation team that is challenging the constitutionality of the Obama administration's heath care reforms.


Dranias has been widely published in law reviews, bar journals and newspapers, and has also written several reports for the Goldwater Institute, including "Federalism D.I.Y.: 10Ways for States to Check and Balance Washington,"[3] "A New Charter for American Cities: 10 Rights to Restrain Government and Protect Freedom,"[4] and other reports on issues such as campaign finance[5] and the Second Amendment.[6] His article, "The Local Liberty Charter: Restoring Grassroots Liberty to Restrain Cities Gone Wild," was recently published by the Phoenix Law Review as part of its recent book on Arizona government.

Bar admissions

Dranias is a member of the federal bars of the United States Supreme Court, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh, Eighth and Ninth Circuits, as well as the U.S. District Courts for the District of Arizona, the Northern District of Illinois, District of Minnesota, and the Eastern District of Wisconsin. He is an active member of the Washington, D.C. Bar and as a Rule 38(f) admittee to the Arizona State Bar. He is an inactive member of the Minnesota and Illinois State Bar.


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