Congress created the Federal Judicial Center Foundation in 1990, 28 U.S.C. § 629, to receive gifts to support the work of the Federal Judicial Center. The Center, 28 U.S.C. §§ 620-628, is the federal judicial branchs agency for orientation and continuing education of federal judges and court personnel, and for policy research about federal court procedures and practices. Congress has also directed the Center to encourage study of the history of the federal courts and to provide information and assistance to foreign judges and others seeking to improve judicial administration in other countries.
Congress has specified that gifts to the Foundation are to be treated, for tax purposes, as gifts to the United States government (28 U.S.C. § 629(f)).
Gifts to the Foundation support Center activities for which the Centers Congressionally provided funds are insufficient. Foundation-supported activities have included:
- the Centers multi-year science and technology project, including its highly regarded Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence
- an educational assistance project to help federal courts provide litigants alternative methods for the resolution of disputes
- a program to help high school and college teachers include famous cases decided in federal trial and appellate courts in history and government classes, and
- seminars for judges on such subjects as mass torts, intellectual property, and environmental law.
Gifts to the Foundation have come from eleemosynary institutions, judges, lawyers, and others, and by court orders that distribute leftover class action funds. For information on how to contribute to the Foundation, go to Suggestions for donors.
Policies governing the Foundations operation are set by its statute and by operating policies approved by the Foundation Board. In addition, the separate Board of the Federal Judicial Center has adopted policies governing the role of Center employees in respect to the Foundation and the role of the Center Board itself in respect to earmarked donations to the Foundation. By statute, the Foundation may not accept gifts earmarked for a specific project unless the Board of the Center has specifically approved that project.