The Utah Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union will have $2 billion to spend defending school prayer, prisoner's rights and controversial causes - but it will have to wait 200 years.
In conjunction with the year-long celebration of the bicentennial of the Bill of Rights, which begins Saturday, Salt Lake attorney Brian Barnard has given the ACLU a $1,000 investment certificate which can not be redeemed until Jan. 1, 2190.By then, at 7.5 percent interest, the certificate will be worth $2 billion.
Barnard, who has represented the ACLU in several cases, said he presented the gift to emulate founding father Benjamin Franklin, who willed funds to Philadelphia and the state of Pennsylvania to be used 200 years after his death.
"Given the need for eternal vigilance to protect civil rights, I'm sure the ACLU will be serving an important function 200 years from now," he said. "And I'm equally sure the Bill of Rights will still need continuing protection."
ACLU-Utah Executive Director Michele A. Parish-Pixler said Barnard's gift doesn't mean the ACLU won't need continued grass-roots financial support.
"We will have to continue vigorous fund-raising every year in order to carry out our educational, legislative and litigation programs," she said.