Judge Jack G. Day, founder of the Cleveland chapter of the ACLU and the ACLU of Ohio, passed away on September 25, 2001 at the age of 88. Throughout his career, Jack dedicated his time to preserving and protecting civil liberties and advocating for civil rights.
Jack received his Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Laws, and Master of Arts degrees from the Ohio State University. During the 1930s and 1940s, Jack participated in various civil liberties organizations, such as the NAACP and the now-inactive Ohio League for Constitutional Rights. With the rise of McCarthyism, he strove to protect First Amendment rights and people charged with disloyalty or un-American activities. Fighting for civil liberties during this time was difficult because, as he explained, “You were considered a radical, even a communist. The public did not accept these organizations.”
Jack assisted with the founding of the Cleveland ACLU chapter in 1950 and the ACLU of Ohio, which the national organization recognized in 1954. Throughout his time with the ACLU, he served as a board member, a speaker, and a volunteer attorney. Jack participated in multiple ACLU cases, including State ex rel. Smilack v. Bushong, Mapp v. Ohio, Terry v. Ohio, and Jacobellis v. Ohio. Noting the significance of the formation of the organization, Jack stated, “Who would defend our constitutional rights if the ACLU didn’t? Just that the ACLU exists makes the difference.”
In addition, Jack served as a president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He also had a private practice as a labor lawyer, was a law professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, and authored multiple scholarly articles. Jack served as a judge and chief justice of the Eighth Appellate District of Ohio and chief justice of the Ohio Court of Appeals.
In 1996, Jack and his wife Ruth established the Ruth and Jack Grant Day Endowment Fund at CWRU law school, which provides law students with clerkships at the ACLU of Ohio. Students get the opportunity to learn constitutional law and contribute to litigation dealing with violations of civil liberties.
Jack Day Biographical Information, February 1999
Listen to an oral history interview with Jack recorded in 1995.
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