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“Give me your tired, your poor,
your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

One of the millions of immigrants who found a safe haven in the United States was a young Jacob Weinberger who traveled by ship with his family in 1889 from Hungary to America. The Weinbergers settled in Colorado where “Jake” grew up, distinguishing himself early in life. After graduating from high school in Denver, he put himself through law school at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Eager to set up practice after passing the bar in 1904, he moved to the wild territory of Globe, Arizona, which then was a copper mining boomtown.

He soon became a prominent attorney and was appointed Deputy District Attorney in 1906. He also began a private practice with a partner. That year was even more notable for Jake — he met his future wife, Blanche Solomon of Solomonville, and married her the next year. When he was only 28, Jacob was one of five representatives elected to help frame a constitution for the new state of Arizona.

Then in 1911, the Weinbergers moved to San Diego to raise their two children. Jacob began the law firm of Binnard and Weinberger, which lasted until 1914. He practiced solo until 1922 when he founded another law firm which eventually became known as Higgs, Fletcher, Mack. For some time this firm was the largest in San Diego, and it still exists today. Weinberger's illustrious career encompassed much more than practicing law as he loved public service. He was appointed to the Board of Education in 1918, serving for 21 years as a Board member and as President for several terms. He also was very active in the Democratic Party and was Vice-Chairman of the State Democratic Central Committee.

In 1941, Governor Olson appointed Jacob Weinberger the City Attorney for San Diego, and the same year he was appointed to the Superior Court. Then in February 1946, President Truman appointed him as a Federal District Judge of the then Southern District of California. He moved to Los Angeles and visited San Diego regularly to try specific cases.

In 1949, Judge Weinberger was permanently transferred to San Diego and became the first resident district court judge in San Diego. Here in the courthouse that now bears his name, he presided over many important cases as a federal judge. However, his greatest joy was performing naturalization ceremonies for new citizens, which he did for over 20 years.  

On November 1, 1958, Judge Weinberger retired to became a very active Senior Judge. Numerous awards and honors were bestowed on him over the years, including having a new elementary school in the San Carlos area named for him. Also, he was invited to address the Arizona Senate as the only survivor of the delegation that had written the state's Constitution. In 1971, Leland G. Stanford, the San Diego County Law Librarian, wrote a book about his longtime friend. Entitled 90 Weinberger Years, the book was presented to the judge and his family on the judge's 90th birthday.

At the age of 92, Judge Weinberger passed away on May 20, 1974. Hundreds of local friends, associates, and national dignitaries attended his funeral to pay homage to this man who lived a long, purposeful, and distinguished life. They honored his accomplishments as an attorney, a judge, and a natural leader. Many of us today, including thousands of naturalized American citizens, will always remember this kind, modest, and gentle man. He administered the oath of citizenship to over 16,000 new Americans! His own foreign origin and personal achievements gave his message a special meaning and poignancy. He told the newly naturalized citizens this:

“It isn't a fairy tale. America will give you back thrice-fold what you give to her. She did it for me; and she can do it for you.”

Jacob Weinberger presided in our courthouse, and his generous spirit still dwells here.

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