The American Civil Liberties Union announced that its historic docket of Supreme Court cases will be named after Joan and Irwin Jacobs, two longtime ACLU supporters. The Joan and Irwin Jacobs Supreme Court Docket naming is made possible through the Jacobses’ landmark $20 million gift to the ACLU Foundation’s Bill of Rights endowment fund — the largest endowment gift in the ACLU’s history.
This four-year investment supports the ACLU’s litigation in the coming years to defend democracy and safeguard the constitutional rights of all, grow its docket of legal battles, and bring critical cases to the highest court of the land.
For the past three decades, Joan and Irwin Jacobs’ generous support has bolstered the ACLU’s ability to protect and advance the waterfront of civil liberties, from immigrants’ rights to freedom of speech to voting rights. In 2009, the Jacobses gave $10 million to build the ACLU’s infrastructure by increasing funding to key state affiliates and enhancing advocacy capabilities nationwide. The Jacobses’ latest gift builds upon several significant ACLU endowment gifts, including $20 million in 2018 from Michael Moritz and Harriet Heyman.
“I can think of no one we would be more honored to name our Supreme Court docket after than Joan and Irwin Jacobs,” said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the ACLU. “Joan and Irwin’s decades-long support has fueled so many of our accomplishments, and it is a privilege to recognize their partnership in this extraordinary way. This endowment gift equips the ACLU to continue its legacy of bringing the most crucial cases to the highest court of the land, which is as critical as ever right now.”
When the ACLU was founded in 1920, the U.S. Supreme Court had yet to uphold a single free speech claim. Since then, the ACLU has participated in more Supreme Court cases than any other organization except the federal government.
“It has been our honor to partner with the ACLU for the past three decades,” said Irwin Jacobs. “If there was not a powerful ACLU fighting every day to create a more perfect union for all people in this nation, so many of our freedoms would be lost. As efforts to dismantle our democracy grow across states, Joan and I hope this gift inspires others to sustain the ACLU’s advocacy and legal power for future generations. We must all continue fighting for a country that is fair, free, and just for all.”
Irwin Jacobs is the founding chairman and CEO emeritus of Qualcomm, a multinational corporation that has been a leader in the development, commercialization, and application of mobile wireless technology from the early days of digital to the present. Joan and Irwin both grew up in homes that honored the Jewish concept of tzedakah, the responsibility to give aid, assistance, and money to worthwhile causes. Their philanthropy has contributed to education, health, science, and the arts.
They have received the Andrew Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy from the Carnegie Foundation and the Philanthropy in the Arts Award from Americans for the Arts. In 2010, Joan and Irwin signed onto the Giving Pledge, a promise by the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to dedicate most of their wealth to charitable causes.
For more than 100 years, the ACLU has worked in courts, legislatures, and communities to protect the constitutional rights of all people. With a nationwide network of offices and millions of members and supporters, the ACLU takes on the toughest civil liberties fights in pursuit of liberty and justice for all.