The ACLU of South Carolina exists to protect and expand the civil rights and civil liberties guaranteed to South Carolinians by the US and State Constitution. To achieve this mission, we take on legal cases and fight for our clients in the courtroom.

We accept requests for legal assistance from community members. We only accept requests that are submitted using the form linked below or that are sent to us by mail at the address below. We do not review requests for legal assistance in person, over the telephone, or by email.

Each year, we receive thousands of requests for assistance. Although we review and retain the information we receive, we are unable to respond to the vast majority of requests for assistance. If you submit a request, you should not expect to receive a response from our office. If you need immediate legal assistance, please contact a lawyer, your local public defender or pro bono organization, or the South Carolina Bar Association. Do not wait for a response from the ACLU.

Click Here to Request Legal Assistance 

To request legal assistance through the mail, please send a letter describing in detail the incident or the issue that prompts you to request legal assistance and mail it to us:
ACLU of South Carolina
PO Box 1668
Columbia, SC 29202

1. What kinds of cases do you take?

A.What kinds of cases do you take?

A.

The ACLU of South Carolina looks for cases inside South Carolina that will have an impact on people’s rights by setting a legal precedent or affecting the policies and actions of public officials. Our legal work is pro bono, meaning we never charge clients for our services.

We are especially interested in the following areas:

  1. Freedom of Expression and Association: These include freedom of speech and press, the right to assemble for protests or rallies, and the right to associate with whom you choose.

  2. Criminal Justice and Incarceration: Those accused of and convicted of crimes have constitutional protections that include access to courts, livable conditions of confinement, access to medical care, and right to counsel.

  3. Freedom of Religion: This includes both the right of individuals to practice the religion of their choice and the separation of church and state.

  4. Equality Under the Law: This guarantees the right to equal treatment regardless of race, sex, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, wealth, or other such classification. These rights apply to such places as the voting booth, the classroom, the workplace, and the courts.

  5. Due Process of Law: This protects a person’s right to be treated fairly when facing criminal charges or other serious accusations that can result in such penalties as loss of employment, exclusion from school, denial of housing, or loss of public benefits.

  6. The Right to Privacy: Individuals have a right to a guaranteed zone of personal privacy and autonomy which cannot be penetrated by the government or by other institutions, like employers, that have substantial influence over an individual's rights.

2. Are there kinds of cases you do not take?

A.Are there kinds of cases you do not take?

A.

In general, we do not handle cases that involve landlord-tenant disputes, employment disputes, direct representation in criminal matters, divorces, child custody disputes, or wills and estate planning.

3. When will I hear back on my request?

A.When will I hear back on my request?

A.

Although we review and retain the information we receive, we generally do not respond directly. If you submit a report, you should not expect to receive a response from our office. This applies to all requests for assistance, no matter how urgent.

4. How soon can you help me?

A.How soon can you help me?

A.

We decline far more cases than we accept, and you should not wait for a response from the ACLU of South Carolina. All legal claims have time deadlines. The deadlines may be different depending on who violated your rights and what rights were violated. For some kinds of violations, you may need to file a claim with a government agency before you can sue (such as the EEOC). These agencies usually have their own time deadlines. The ACLU cannot give you advice about the deadlines that apply to your case.

Reporting an issue to the ACLU of South Carolina does not pause, delay, or toll your filing deadlines. To protect your rights, please consult with an attorney promptly to find out what deadlines apply in your situation. A failure to do so could preclude you from obtaining relief in the future.

5. Why can't you take my case?

A.Why can't you take my case?

A.

We decline far more cases than we accept. We receive thousands of requests every year, and our capacity to provide legal assistance is extremely limited. Even when a request for legal help meets all of our criteria, it may come at a time when our office’s resources are tapped out. Please remember that we are staffed with kind, compassionate, and hardworking people who are doing their best to advance our mission.

6. Are there other resources for getting legal help?

A.Are there other resources for getting legal help?

A.

The South Carolina Access to Justice Commission provides a tool, the Legal Resource Finder, which helps identify legal aid organizations you might be eligible for and self-help resources available to you.

Other resources include: