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.
REPORT A CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATION
The ACLU of South Carolina welcomes input from our community about violations of civil rights and civil liberties. Although we review and retain the information we receive, we do 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, whether delivered to us by mail, email, or telephone.
To better understand the types of cases we take and why, please review the information below.
THE TYPES OF CASES WE TAKE
The ACLU of South Carolina looks for cases inside South Carolina that allow for broad, impactful relief in the areas of civil rights and civil liberties. We are especially interested in the following areas:
- 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.
- Criminal Justice and Incarceration: The rights guaranteed to the accused and to the convicted, including access to courts, conditions of confinement, access to medical care, and right to counsel.
- Freedom of Religion: This includes both the right of individuals to practice the religion of their choice and the separation of church and state.
- Equality Under the Law: 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.
- Due Process of Law: The 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 cut-off of public benefits.
- The Right to Privacy: The right to a guaranteed zone of personal privacy and autonomy which cannot be penetrated by the government or by other institutions, like employers, with substantial influence over an individual's rights.
Our capacity to operate even in these core areas is limited. Some cases may fall squarely in one or several of these categories but do not allow for broadly applicable relief. Others may satisfy all of our selection criteria but may arise at a time when our office’s resources are tapped out. Please understand that we are staffed with kind, compassionate, and hardworking people that are doing their best to advance our mission. We decline far more cases than we accept.
THE TYPES OF CASES WE CANNOT TAKE
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.
IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT DEADLINES
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.
We litigate when doing so is the most effective way to advance a civil liberties concern. We file lawsuits that will have an impact on people’s rights by setting a legal precedent or affecting the policies and actions of public officials. We provide direct legal representation to individuals and file amicus (friend-of-the-court) briefs addressing civil liberties issues in cases initiated by others. Our legal work is pro bono, meaning we never charge clients for our services